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Saturday, May 11, 2024

Honduras Condemned Over Garifuna Land Dispute

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court) condemned Honduras for violating the collective property rights over the ancestral lands of the Garifuna community of San Juan, according to a ruling published this Friday.

“Honduras is responsible for the violation of the right to collective property, the obligation to guarantee participation in public affairs, and access to public information, to the detriment of the Garifuna community of San Juan,” the ruling stated.

The IACHR Court, based in San José, considered that Honduras “failed to comply with its obligation to title, delimit and demarcate” the territory of the community, located about 300 km north of Tegucigalpa, on the Caribbean Sea coast.

The Garifuna community requested land titles but the State made “sales and awards to third parties,” the Court explained. The urban radius of the nearby municipality of Tela was expanded and the protected area “Janeth Kawas Park” was created in that area.

According to community leaders, the delay in titling the land was due to the influence of wealthy businessmen who had designed large-scale tourism projects on those paradisiacal lands of rainforests and white sand beaches.

The State of Honduras was convicted in 2015 to recognize the property rights of the lands of the Garifuna communities of Punta Piedra, in the department of Colón (northeast) and Triunfo de la Cruz (north).

The IACHR Court also pointed out that “the climate of threats and violence against members of the Garifuna community of San Juan was partly attributable to the State” and therefore the latter “was responsible for a violation of the right to personal integrity” of the Afro-descendant people.

As reparation measures, the ruling determined “to grant the title deed” over alternative lands or compensate accordingly, resolve pending appeals made by the community; pay compensation and create a fund to finance social projects for the Garifuna community.

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