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Honduras: “Another defender needs protection after Berta Cáceres’s killing” – UN expert

GENEVA (10 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, today called upon the Government of Honduras to ensure the safety and protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican defender, who was hurt during the assassination of Berta Cáceres.

Honduran authorities prevented Mr. Castro Soto, founder of the organization Otros Mundos and defender of land and environmental rights, from leaving the country for Mexico. He is prevented from leaving Honduras for 30 days due to a ‘migratory alert’, but the grounds for this alert are yet to be confirmed.

“I urge the authorities of Honduras to guarantee that the life of Mr. Castro Soto is not put to risk and to allow his return to Mexico as soon as possible”, expressed the Rapporteur, while noting the assistance provided to the defender by the Mexican Embassy in Tegucigalpa. 

“It is high time that the Government of Honduras addressed the flagrant impunity of the increased number of executions of human rights defenders in the country, especially targeting those who defend environmental and land rights,” Mr. Forst stressed.

Additionally, the Special Rapporteur insisted that the Government of Honduras should make sure that an immediate, independent and impartial investigation takes place on the death of Berta Cáceres.

“Berta’s assassination is a tragic wake-up call for the State to prevent such murderous acts, protect defenders and bring the responsible criminals to justice,” the Rapporteur noted.

“Gustavo should immediately be provided with effective protection and permitted to return to his country,” he concluded, expressing deep concern for the safety of the Mexican defender while he remains in Honduras.

The statement by Mr. Michel Forst has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye and on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, John Knox.

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. For more information, log on to:

Read the Special Rapporteur’s reports on the global threats facing human rights defenders, and on the situation of women human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/AnnualReports.aspx

The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Honduras: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/HNIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests please contact Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 22 9179245 / eandvig@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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