REPORT No. 121/09
PETITION 1186-04
ADMISSIBILITY
OPARIO LEMOTH MORRIS ET AL. (MISKITU DIVERS)
HONDURAS
November 12, 2009
I.

SUMMARY

1.
On November 5, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
(hereinafter “the Inter-American Commission,” “the Commission,” or “the IACHR”) received
a complaint submitted by the Asociación de Miskitos Hondureños de Buzos Lisiados (AMHBLI:
Association of Disabled Honduran Miskitu Divers); the Asociación de Mujeres Miskitas Miskitu
Indian Mairin Asla Takanka (MIMAT: Association of Miskitu Women); and the Almuk Nani Asla
Takanka Council of Elders, respectively, represented by Arquímedes García López, Cendela
López Kilton, and Bans López Solaisa, all in representation of the Miskitu indigenous people
of the department of Gracias a Dios (hereinafter “the petitioners”) 1, against the State of
Honduras (hereinafter “Honduras,” “the State,” or “the Honduran State”), to the detriment of
the divers who are members of the Miskitu people (hereinafter the “alleged victims” or the
“Miskitu divers”). The petition alleges that the State has failed to supervise the working
conditions of persons who have been and are employed in underwater fishing in the
department of Gracias a Dios, who are subject to labor exploitation, which has caused a
situation of such proportions and gravity that it endangers the integrity of the Miskitu people,
as thousands have suffered multiple and irreversible physical disabilities, and many have
died.
2.
In the petition, it is alleged that the State is responsible for violating the
fundamental rights of the divers who are members of the Miskitu people established in Articles
4 (right to life), 5 (humane treatment), 8(1) (judicial guarantees), 17(1) (protection of the
family), 19 (rights of the child), 24 (equality before the law), 25 (judicial protection), and 26
(progressive development of economic, social and cultural rights), in conjunction with Articles
1(1) and 2, all of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the “Convention” or
the “American Convention”) and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization
“Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries” (hereinafter “ILO
Convention 169”). As regards the admissibility requirements, they state that they have not
had access to domestic remedies, either administrative or judicial, due to their condition of
extreme poverty and the failure of the State to provide adequate mechanisms. They state
that in those cases in which they have had access to domestic remedies, they were not
expeditious or effective, leading to an unwarranted delay in resolving the actions.
3.
The State indicates that it has a specific legal system of protection that
regulates labor relations between employers and workers, the procedures to be followed, the
institutions, and the competent personnel, so that the persons engaged in underwater fishing
can demand respect for and observance of their rights. Moreover, it argues that the cases
brought by the persons affected before the competent organs, both administrative and
judicial, were not concluded due to omission and abandonment by the petitioners, accordingly
they ask that the petition be found inadmissible due to failure to exhaust domestic remedies.

1 In a note of December 18, 2007 the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) was
accredited by the petitioners as a co-petitioner.

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