Roberto Antonio Argueta Tejada

Source OMCT (original Spanish)

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests urgent intervention in the following situation in Honduras.

New information:

The Observatory has received information from reliable sources about the murder of Mr. Roberto Antonio Argueta Tejada, who despite not being part of the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Assets (CMDBCP) [1] was sympathetic and had supported the Guapinol defenders, for example, by providing them with food or water, which is why he was one of 32 people criminalized as part of the Guapinol case. Mr. Argueta Tejada had voluntarily decided not to appear before the competent authorities as 12 other accused did in February 2019 and another 7 on August 26, 2019.

According to the information received, on August 28 in the morning Mr. Argueta Tejada was shot to death by several heavily armed strangers near the San Isidro hospital in the city of Tocoa, Department of Colon.

The murder took place the day before the Initial Hearing in the Court of National Jurisdiction of San Pedro Sula of the process against nine defenders of Guapinol, within the framework of the same case in which Mr. Argueta Tejada was being criminalized ( see Background).

The Observatory reiterates its condemnation of the improper use of the criminal law to control, neutralize and punish people who exercise the right to resistance in defense of land and territory, and once again stress that the criminalization of defenders entails a strong social stigmatization by the fact of being portrayed as criminals, which significantly increases their vulnerability and the chances of them being victims of other attacks, hypotheses that could explain this murder. In this regard, the Observatory recalls that, based on international human rights standards, the authorities should consider as a first hypothesis that violations against a human rights defender are the product of their human rights defense activities.

Finally, the Observatory recalls that the dismissal of charges issued by the judge at dawn on March 4, 2019 should benefit the rest of criminalized defenders, including the 9 that will face a hearing from August 29, and urges the Honduran authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the murder of Mr. Roberto Antonio Argueta Tejada in order to identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal, and apply the sanctions provided by law.


On August 1, 2018, residents of communities in the Guapinol sector set up a camp in protest against the activities of the company “Inversiones Los Pinares” that is working on the opening of a road to an area of ​​the Mountain National Park of Botaderos where there are two mining concessions belonging to the company Emco Mining Company SA from C.V., passing about 20 meters from the Guapinol River. According to the residents, the dragging of the sediments from the opening of the road caused the drinking water systems to be filled with mud. In addition, residents of 13 communities in the San Pedro sector joined the protest since mining is located in the area where the San Pedro River is born, which supplies them with water. The villagers consider the authorization without consultation of mining concessions in the core zone of a protected area where the water they use to survive is both illegal and unfair.

On September 7, 2018, a person was injured after being attacked by a group of guards hired by the company “Inversiones Los Pinares”, at the site where the residents of Guapinol and San Pedro have built the camp.

On October 27, 2018, approximately 1500 military and police officers carried out a violent eviction from the camp.

On February 21, 2019, 13 of 18 people from the community of Guapinol voluntarily presented themselves to the La Ceiba court on the basis of the arrest warrant issued against them for alleged crimes of usurpation and damages against the company “Inversiones Los Pinares” and the State of Honduras When appearing in court, the people of the community and their lawyers were surprised with the existence of a second arrest warrant for 31 people, which number included12 of the 13 people who had already filed,accusing them of additional crimes, including unjust deprivation of liberty, aggravated fire, robbery and illegal association. Faced with this situation, the defense lawyers filed an appeal against the judge of La Ceiba and the case was transferred to a judge of National Jurisdiction based in Tegucigalpa.

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Date of Killing:28/08/2019

Previous Threats:No information

Type of Work:Social protester

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Environmental Rights, Extractive industries/Mega projects

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).