Case History: Vidal Leiva
On 29 November 2015 human rights defenders Ms Irma Lemus and Mr Rigoberto Duran were involved in a road accident. An unidentified vehicle deliberately hit them while they were riding a motorcycle in the Bajo Aguán region.
This incident follows an assassination attempt on 27 November 2015 against human rights defender Mr Vidal Leiva, who was shot and seriously wounded.
Vidal Leiva is the president of Comité de Defensa de Tierras de las comunidades Garífunas de Cristales y Río Negro (Committee for the Defence of Land of the Garifuna communities Crystals and Black River) and has played a prominent role in the defence of land rights and the denunciation of forced evictions in Trujillo.
On 29 November 2015, at approximately 4:30pm, Irma Lemus and Rigoberto Duran were travelling on a motorcycle towards Zamora when an unidentified white vehicle deliberately hit them. Both human rights defenders were thrown to the side of the road and the white vehicle quickly fled the scene. As a result of the attack Irma Lemus and Rigoberto Duran suffered multiple injuries. They were taken to the hospital in the town of Tocoa to receive medical attention; Irma Lemus had to be transferred to the hospital in the city of La Ceiba due to the severity of her injuries. The human rights defenders have previously reported being followed by similar white vehicles without registration plates.
On 27 November 2015, an assassination attempt was made on Vidal Leiva. The human rights defender was shot three times by an unidentified man and sustained injuries to his liver and lungs. The injuries were initially very serious, however his condition has now improved.
The pressure which land rights defenders in Trujillo face has increased since 13 November 2015, when a court hearing was held against foreign investors for allegedly conducting illegal seizing and forced evictions in Trujillo Bay, in order to build the cruise pier known as Banana Coast.