IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Human Rights Defender Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas in Honduras

March 9, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 11/2023 on March 6, 2023, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas and her family in Honduras, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

According to the party who requested these precautionary measures, human rights defender Castro Vargas is the executive director of the Engaged Citizens Association (Asociación por una Ciudadanía Participativa) and is being subjected to surveillance, threats, and other actions that have made it risky for her to do her work since 2017. The risks have allegedly persisted over time and been extended to her family, although she has been granted protection measures by the State which are, however, not being adequately implemented.

The State reported on several measures that had been adopted to address this situation. It has allegedly granted protection measures to Castro Vargas, through its own Protection Mechanism, including a police contact, police patrols, security escort, and the installation of cameras. The State said that negotiation and agreement platforms had been provided to ensure the corrections required to implement these measures. Finally, the State said that the protection measures in place in favor of Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas could remain within a domestic framework.

The Commission assessed the measures taken by the State and the State's willingness to provide platforms to seek an agreement with Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas. However, the IACHR noted that Castro Vargas remains vulnerable, given the failure to implement the protection measures that she has been granted and the need to further investigate the reported risks. The Commission also stresses the overall situation of women who are human rights defenders in Honduras, which has facilitated the persistence of risk factors since 2017. Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR asked the State of Honduras to take the following action:

  1. Adopt any measures necessary—with a gender perspective—to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas and her family
  2. Take all protection measures necessary—with a gender perspective—for Hedme Fátima Castro Vargas to be able to continue to do her work in defense of human rights without suffering threats, intimidation, harassment, and other acts of violence
  3. Come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  4. Report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 040/23

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