Honduras: International organisations condemn the murder of a peasants’ human rights lawyer and defender from the lower Aguan and of the special prosecutor for human rights

International Statement

October 1, 2012

The undersigned organizations condemn the murder of the lawyer and peasants’ human rights defender, Antonio Trejo; and of the special prosecutor for human rights of the department of Choluteca, Eduardo Diaz Mazariegos.

On the night of Saturday September 22, 2012, the legal representative of the Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicador del Aguán- MARCA (Authentic Peasant Reclamation Movement of Aguan), Antonio Trejo (41 years old) was shot near the Toncontin airport, in Tegucigalpa.

Trejo represented peasant cooperatives of the Lower Aguan region, members of MARCA in their struggle for access to land in order to fulfill their right to food and housing, among other rights. After 18 years of litigation, Trejo achieved that the Civil Trial Court of Francisco Morazán and the District Trial Court of Trujillo ruled that the acquisition by the businessmen Miguel Facussé and René Morales of the states of San Isidro, La Trinidad and El Despertar -with a total area of 1,776 hectares- was illegal and restitute the right to land to the peasants.

On June 29, Honduran public security forces handed over the three states to MARCA peasants, in execution of the judicial decisions in their favor.

However, abusing the legal remedies the Honduran system offers, 

judicial protection of farmers was turned ineffective. The businessmen filed a writ of amparo (a judicial action for the protection of human rights) to reverse the land restitution. These petitions were arbitrarily granted, in violation of Honduran law. The restitution of land was reversed and the eviction of the MARCA(1) peasants was ordered.

The Report of the International Verification Mission documented the threats to Trejo and his family.(2) Trejo himself reported these threats to the state authorities namely the Criminal Investigation Directorate General; and to Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur, to whom he described the situation of human rights defenders in the Lower Aguan region. The threats against Trejo and his family intensified following the favorable ruling he secured for Lower Aguan peasants.

On September 24, 2012, the special prosecutor for human rights of the department of Choluteca, Eduardo Díaz Mazariegos, was shot dead by strangers, near the Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Choluteca, Honduras.

International organizations have been constantly monitoring the situation in the Lower Aguan, including through an International Verification Mission on the Human Rights situation in the Lower Aguan, which took place in March 2011,(3) and through an International Public Hearing on the situation of human rights of peasant communities in the Lower Aguan,(4) held on May 28, 2012, in Tocoa, Colón.(5)

According to our documentation, to date 54 people affiliated to peasant organizations of the Lower Aguan, as well as a journalist and her partner, have been killed since September 2009 in the agrarian conflict that afflicts the region. In addition, a farmer has been missing since May 15, 2011.

We are worried about the fact that there has been no serious and impartial investigation of these crimes, according to information provided by the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights,.

The undersigned organizations strongly urge state institutions to investigate impartially and expeditiously the murder of the lawyer Antonio Trejo and the prosecutor Eduardo Díaz Mazariegos, to punish those directly and indirectly responsible of these crimes, and to provide integral reparation for their families.

We reiterate the recommendations contained in the Declaration of the International Public Hearing on the situation of human rights in peasant communities of The Lower Aguan, adopted on May 28, 2012 in Tocoa, Honduras:

To the Honduran