ESCR-Net calls on the government of Honduras the immediate return of Gustavo Castro to Mexico

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) sent a letter today to the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Fernández, to request the return of the human rights defender, Gustavo Castro Soto, to his home country, Mexico and provide all possible means of protection while he continues to reside in Honduran territory.

Gustavo Castro Soto is Mexican citizen and human rights defender who is a leader of the Mexican non-governmental organization, Otros Mundos, a member of ESCR-Net. At present, Castro is being retained in Honduras, as the sole witness to the murder of Berta Cáceres, the leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) who worked to defend the rights of Lenca indigenous communities affected by the 'Agua Zarca' hydroelectric project.

Since the tragic murder of Berta Cáceres, Gustavo Castro Soto has cooperated fully with the investigations by the Honduran authorities, to whom he provided his testimony multiple times. On 7 March, Castro was ordered by the Honduran Attorney General’s office to remain in the country for 30 more days. In addition to this denial of his liberty, ESCR-Net is deeply concerned that he remains vulnerable to further threats or security risks.

The letter, endorsed by over 270 organizational and individual members in 70 countriesrecalls that Honduras, as party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is obliged to uphold the right to liberty and security of person, including freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention. Also, as party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Honduras is also obligated to respect and protect the right to work, the right to food and the right to an adequate standard of living, all rights which Ms. Cáceres and Mr. Castro have sought to defend.

Furthermore, the letter recalls the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Precautionary Measures Resolution 112-16 issued on 5 March 2016, on behalf of COPINH, the relatives of Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro, which notes that their life and personal integrity are allegedly threatened and at risk and calls on the Government of Honduras “to take the necessary measures to ensure Castro’s well-being during the process to prepare and ultimately leave the country.”

Finally, the letter appeals to Honduras to launch an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into the assassination of Berta Cáceres, ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice and take concerted measures to halt the murder and intimidation of human rights defenders in the country.

Please read the letter here.