Press Release

Human rights abuses in Bajo Aguán will be denounced internationally









International Mission reports human rights crisis in Bajo Aguán


From Feb. 25 through Mar. 4, 2011, an International Mission formed by international networks and organizations,1 and backed by national organizations,2 conducted an on-the-field investigation to assess the state of human rights in Bajo Aguán. Towards this aim, it met with members of various peasant organizations and communities, as well as with a range of authorities in the region, including the Prosecutor’s Office, judges, and the National Agricultural Institute (INA). Members of the mission also interviewed representatives of the international community, the Special Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, and the Truth Commission.


Based on its observations, the International Mission found a serious human rights crisis in Bajo Aguán, including the following:


  • Nineteen peasants from Bajo Aguán organizations have been murdered since January 2010, and according to the Prosecutor’s Office no arrest warrants have been issued in any of these cases. In most of these cases, no preliminary inquest was even conducted, and thus there is a high risk that all of them will go unpunished.

  • Multiple violations of the right to physical integrity, including threats and constant harassment against leaders and members of peasant organizations, perpetrated by members of the police and private security companies that guard the properties of the area’s large landowners. The Mission also learned of cases of kidnapping and torture, multiple injuries, and sexual abuse.

  • Peasants continue to be forced off their land, in violation of their food, housing, and health rights, and their settlements are being destroyed, ignoring international law provisions and due process.

  • The state is failing to comply with legal provisions and political agreements establishing land grants, including the obligation to hand over all the land of the former Regional Military Training Center (CREM) to the peasant companies gathered in the Movimiento Campesino del Aguán (Aguán Peasant Movement, or MCA), the obligation to transfer a total of 11,000 hectares to the cooperatives of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (United Peasants Movement of Aguán, or MUCA) before Apr. 13, 2011; and the obligation to respect and guarantee the land rights of the cooperatives of the Movimiento Auténtico Reivindicativo Campesino del Aguán (Authentic Movement for the Rights of Aguán Peasants, or MARCA).

  • The commitments to guarantee education, health, and housing rights undertaken by the state in the Agreement with MUCA have so far been ignored.

  • Instead of effective policies and measures to solve the area’s agricultural problems, a process of stigmatization and criminalization of peasant struggles is observed, with arbitrary arrests, 162 people processed, and the systematic persecution of peasant leaders.




The Mission has established with concern that the repression and violence against members of the peasant communities and organizations has not stopped, and that these communities and organizations are completely exposed and vulnerable in the face of biased authorities. The deadly crimes committed in Bajo Aguán are going unpunished, making it easier for human rights violations to be repeated.


In view of this situation, the Mission calls on national authorities to meet their obligation to investigate and prosecute the murders and crimes committed against the peasants of Bajo Aguán, and to criminally punish the direct and indirect perpetrators of these crimes. They must also act immediately to cease all repressive actions and violence against the peasant movement and adopt effective measures to protect anyone at risk. They must also enforce legal provisions and honor the political agreements they have signed, to enable the communities still living in precarious conditions to access land, health, education, and housing.


The current model of rural development needs to be urgently redefined, abandoning the model based on agribusiness and land concentration in favor of policies that promote sustainable peasant farming, and the implementation of a comprehensive agrarian reform, which is a constitutional mandate in Honduras.


In this context, the international community plays a key role in the protection and promotion of human rights. This means that the diplomatic community must contribute with concrete and firm measures to enhance the protection of the people who are at risk, in particular the people of Bajo Aguán, by conditioning its cooperation to full respect for human rights.


In addition, the international community must ensure that the financial cooperation it provides state bodies and private companies does not contribute to human rights abuses. Therefore, we ask that, in the specific case of Bajo Aguán, bilateral cooperation agencies and multilateral banks review financial cooperation agreements entered into with any police forces and private security companies that may be implicated in acts of violence, harassment, and human rights violations in the region.


The international organizations that have participated in this Mission will make the findings of this investigation public through a report that will be delivered to the Truth Commission, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the European Union, and the International Criminal Court, and will continue monitoring the situation very closely, accompanying the struggle for human rights and against impunity in Bajo Aguán and the rest of the country.


Tegucigalpa, March 4, 2011



International Human Rights Mission to Bajo Aguán

Honduras | February | March | 2011


1-APRODEV (Association of Development Organizations connected with the World  Council of Churches), CIFCA (Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico), FIAN International, IFIHR (International Federation for Human Rights ), Rel-UITA (Latin American Regional Office of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations), and Vía Campesina International.

2-CDM (Center for Women’s Rights), CIPRODEH (Human Rights Research and Promotion Center of Honduras), COFADEH (Commission of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras), Truth Commission, FIAN Honduras,  Vía Campesina Honduras, and Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS).


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