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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates

News Article

Over 700 campesinos in Cartagena del Chairá, Colombia, are restoring 4,762 hectares of degraded rainforest, planting nearly a million trees in a deforestation hotspot. Collaborating with researchers from SINCHI and the Association of Community Action Boards (Asojuntas), they have documented over 600 plant and 100 animal species. This initiative, involving environmental education and restoration activities for all ages, has inspired many youths to pursue environmental careers. Economic pressures previously drove deforestation, but now, communities are actively replanting and protecting the forest, valuing its biodiversity and ecological importance. The restoration project has fostered environmental awareness and a commitment to sustainable development among locals, with a long-term vision of a greener, biodiverse future.

News Article

A new report from the Organization of American States (OAS) highlights the severe human rights crisis in Honduras, focusing on violence against environmental defenders, particularly in agrarian land disputes affecting Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. The report underscores that many human rights abuses, including threats, murders, and violence, are disproportionately targeted at those defending the environment, land, and territory. The OAS recommends that the Honduran government improve land titling and strengthen institutions to hold perpetrators accountable. Long-standing agrarian conflicts, inadequate land titles, and large-scale industrial projects have exacerbated violence and social unrest. The report calls for better legislation to protect collective territories and ensure prior consultation processes for affected communities.

News Article

San Pedro Sula, Honduras, currently has the worst air quality in the Americas due to forest fires exacerbated by El Niño and climate change. IQAir reported PM2.5 levels at 249.1 mcg/m³, far above the WHO's safe limit of 5 mcg/m³. Authorities have issued high-level health warnings, closed schools, and advised residents to stay indoors. The health sector has seen a 20% rise in respiratory infections, with increased emergencies among children and seniors.

Thick smog has disrupted air travel, forcing flight diversions and airport closures. The El Niño phenomenon has intensified droughts and wildfires, particularly affecting Central America's "dry corridor." Over 2,500 fires have burned 211,292 hectares in Honduras this year. La Tigra national park near Tegucigalpa was nearly destroyed, harming the ecosystem.

Officials warn that without policy changes, such environmental crises could become more frequent, threatening millions. The International Federation of the Red Cross anticipates more climate-related disasters across Central America, highlighting the need for enhanced response preparations.

News Article

In a court hearing in San Salvador on April 10, a judge upheld charges against five anti-mining activists known as the Santa Marta Five. The activists, arrested in January 2023, face charges of "illicit association" and an alleged murder dating back to the Salvadoran Civil War. Supporters believe that Bukele's administration targets them for their roles in the country's mining ban. Despite being granted house arrest in August 2023, international support calls for justice, as concerns arise over the motive behind their criminalization and its threat to the mining ban.

The Santa Marta Five, including Teodoro Antonio Pacheco and Saúl Agustín Rivas Ortega, are esteemed community leaders who fought against the US-backed military dictatorship in the 1980s. They played pivotal roles in rebuilding their community post-civil war and organizing against foreign mining companies in the 2010s, leading to the historic mining ban of 2017. However, their detention under Bukele's administration raises concerns about legal rights.

Bukele's rise to power signifies a shift from the promises of the 1992 peace accords, as his administration undermines democratic principles and human rights. Despite his efforts to combat gang violence, his tactics, including indefinite detention without due process, draw criticism. The state of exception, declared in 2022 and now permanent, suspends civil and political rights, posing a threat to human rights and the rule of law. The broader implications extend to environmental activism and economic interests, overshadowing the fight against gang violence.

News Article

To read the full article: Migrant Justice Newsletter - April 2024 | InterReligious Task Force on Central America (

Welcome to IRTF’s March 2024 newsletter on Migrant Justice and the current situation at the US-Mexico border. After you’ve looked through the articles, we hope you can take a few minutes to see the TAKE ACTION items at the bottom. In this newsletter, please read about : 1.  Changing Trends in Migrants at US-Mexico Border. 2. ICE Air: Update on Removal Flight Trends . 3. Study Reveals: Border Wall Height Exacerbates Trauma Incidents . 4. At the Border: Recent . Incidents at and around the US-Mexico Border . 5. Border Patrol and Local Law Enforcement’s Patterns of Abuse in Ohio’s Immigration Enforcement. 6. Raising the Credible Fear Screening Standard Will Endanger Lives but Won’t Fix The Border . 7. Children in US-Mexico Border Camps. 8. Migrants Mired in Transit as Mexico Becomes US’s Immigration Enforcer. 9. Kidnapping of Migrants and Asylum Seekers at Texas-Tamaulipas Border Reaches Intolerable Levels . 10.  Migrant Deaths in New Mexico and Western Texas . 11. Human Rights in the Darién Gap of Panamá.

 TAKE ACTION NOW. Here is what you can do to take action this week in solidarity with migrants and their families. (See details at the bottom of this newsletter.) A) SPEAK UP FOR DEMOCRACY IN EL SALVADOR. B)  SPEAK UP FOR PEOPLE IN HAITI. C) STOP DEPORTATIONS TO HAITI . D) PROTECT UNACCOMPANIED MINORS. E) VISIT CAPITOL HILL: #ReuniteUS. F) HELP REFUGEES & MIGRANTS IN CLEVELAND.