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Prosecutor in Edwin and Raul’s case appeals their release

In Council Watch
Sep 3rd, 2019

Edwin Espinal and Karen Spring on recent break in north Honduras

Simcoe County Honduras Rights Toronto Event September 18, 2019

By Janet Spring Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor

On Friday September 30, we received devastating news that the prosecutor in Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez’s bail hearing appealed the decision that granted bail to the two men despite the sentencing court denying this appeal. After only 3-weeks out of prison, once the appeal is heard by the appeals court, Edwin and Raul could be sent back to prison if the judges’ decision is unfavourable.

Karen and Edwin were apprised of this development as they were enjoying a few days of respite in the northern part of Honduras. After Edwin was released on August 9, 2019 from almost 19 months of imprisonment in horrific conditions in La Tolva, they took some needed rest away from the stress of the ordeal. Their time to recuperate was cut short. The appeals court is a higher jurisdiction than the sentencing court and has denied the men release on bail twice in the past. In another case, Gustavo Caceres, a severely disabled man, arrested at the same time and on trumped up charges, has been repeatedly denied bail from this judiciary. The appeals court is part of the mafia structure of the Honduran government, taking orders from the corrupt regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez.

As due process is very rarely given, we are gravely concerned that Edwin and Raul’s freedom will be short-lived and that Gustavo’s pre-trial detention will continue indefinitely. The Honduran people remain in the streets, protesting daily to demand that Juan Orlando Hernandez step down; serious allegations of narco-trafficking linked to his brother Tony Hernandez’ arrest and impending trial in New York continue to wreak havoc on his legitimacy as president.

From the top down, Hernandez’ government has been implicated in many drug, gang, theft, collusion, and embezzlement acts and with almost 95% impunity. But those who speak against this corruption are imprisoned, terrorized, murdered, tortured, or disappeared. Yet Hernandez attempts to stay in favour with the Trump administration as he recently traveled to Israel to set up a Honduran ‘diplomatic shop’ there, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But trouble is looming for Hernandez as his brother’s narco-trafficking trial seriously implicates him in the narco trade and gang-drug corruption. Many international organizations, the Honduran people and government opposition believe that Hernandez’ crumbling narco mafia empire will fall in the coming months. But the Canadian government continues to support this government and has not to date made a public statement against it. Canadian corporations continue to do ‘business as usual’ in Honduras, turning a blind eye to this blatant corruption.

The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor is holding an event called “Washington at Work in Honduras; What is Canada’s Role” in Toronto on Wednesday September 18, 7–9 p.m. to address the issues and repression. Co-sponsored by St. Stephens-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, and held St. Stephens on 365 College Street, a panel of four speakers will discuss the future of Honduras and Canada’s continuing role addressing the question, “What Now?”

Our panel will include:
Yves Engler – Montreal-based author and activist
Dr. Tyler Shipley – author and York University professor
Yurissa Varela – UN University, member of the Honduro-Toronto community, migrant justice organizer
Karen Spring – Honduras Solidarity Network Coordinator, Tegucigalpa Honduras, spouse of Edwin Espinal.

The panel will address the following issues:

Where is Canada’s voice on Juan Orlando Hernandez government corruption related to the president’s criminal activities and directing a discriminating and unjust judicial system that has criminalized human rights workers like Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez?

What role does mainstream Canadian media play as they continue to boycott these discussions on Honduran corruption and the fact that Canadian companies are benefitting from the serious repression of the Honduran people?

When will the Canadian government speak against the unlawful and unjust treatment of families, women, and children, the majority being Honduran, as they are criminalized for seeking asylum, held in makeshift prisons at the Trump administration’s bidding throughout the United States? They are fleeing from violence, repression, gang-wars, extortion, climate disasters, and extreme poverty as a result of US and Canadian foreign policy.

Why has no statement been made regarding the serious issues that the Honduran people are facing as they are forced to flee in mass caravans northward under very precarious conditions? And why is Canada’s foreign policy regarding Central America, specifically related to Honduras, absent from the election portfolio for the main political parties – Liberal, Conservative, Green, and NDP?

How can Canada do business with a corrupt Honduran regime that marginalizes, criminalizes and commits human rights abuses against its people? As taxpayers, our Canadian dollars are presumably funding human rights projects in Honduras, yet these funds as reported recently are not used as intended.

This is a discussion that needs to take place to inform Canadians as we head to the polls on October 21, 2019.

The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor appreciates your ongoing support for Edwin Espinal and others marginalized by the repressive regime in Honduras. Human rights defenders like Edwin must be freed and exonerated of all false charges. We hope to see you on September 18 in Toronto. If you need a ride, please contact me at: 705-734-4238 or via email at: janetspring7@gmail.com. A full report of the meeting will also be found on our website: www.simcoecountyhondurasrightsmonitor.wordpress.com.

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