Sambo Creek, December 21, 2015 – After twelve years of introducing a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on violations of the collective property´s rights of the Garifuna communities from Punta Piedra, Triunfo de la Cruz and Cayos Cochinos, finally the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has issued two judgments in relation to the violations of collective rights of Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra.
The IACHR among other stressed “that the State is responsible for violating the right to collective ownership in Article 21 of the Convention, in relation to Article 1.1 of it, to the detriment of the Garifuna Community of Triunfo Cruz and its members ” and in the case of Punta Piedra on land tenure said “the lack of guarantee of the use and enjoyment, through the lack of sanitation by the State in the territory of the Community of Punta Piedra, for over 15 years, as well as the lack of implementation of the agreements in 2001 and 2006 “.
In addition, IACHR added, “Regarding the right to consultation and cultural identity, the Court considered that the query should be applied prior to any exploration project that may affect the traditional lands of indigenous and tribal communities.”
The Court further noted that since it has been the absence of judicial protection, situation that affects both the Garifuna people and the remaining country’s indigenous peoples, we who have been suffering from a systematic process of dispossession under the vision of a neo-liberal standard “development”.
Over the course of a dozen years that took these processes, the rule of law in Honduras has been curtailed by the politicization and corruption prevailing in the country, which since the coup d’etat in 2009 has entered into an unstoppable spiral of violence. While the Garifuna communities supported by our organization has started countless complaints regarding the violation of collective rights, organized crime took control of the northern corridor coast.
The ignorance of the judicial officers in relation to indigenous peoples´ rights and the international conventions that protect us, has served to the courts in order to issue judgments against collective rights. In many cases, sentences are issued with full knowledge of its shortcomings bordering on prefab.
Despite the existence of agreements and treaties that protect indigenous peoples, in addition to various judgments issued by the IACHR, there is a tendency in Latin America towards plunder and subjugation of indigenous peoples, those who pay a huge bill for ‘development’ projects.
The sentences force the state of Honduras the creation of development funds, so as to allegedly increase the economic level of the inhabitants of communities. However, considering the Machiavellian characteristics of government administration on duty, those funds can be used to promote the division and dilute the achievements obtained by the communities.
The enforcement of sentences is linked to reinstall the rule of law that has been demolished in Honduras. The coup to the Supreme Court (12-12-12) has placed Honduras to the brink, cementing the civilian dictatorship and encouraging legal chaos.
Despite the achievement represented by the judgments of Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra, the Garifuna communities are under threat from the model cities (ZEDE Act) and the dissolution of community titles through the Property Law imposed by the World Bank.
The Garifuna people currently has more three cases before the Commission and several requests, in which violations of collective and human rights perpetrated by the State of Honduras, demonstrate the existence of a deliberate expulsion of our people´s country.
Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH.