Without prejudging the merits, and having analyzed the information
available and verified compliance with the admissibility requirements set forth at Articles 46
and 47 of the American Convention, as well as Articles 30 and 37 of its Rules of Procedure,
the IACHR concludes that the petition is admissible in relation to the alleged violation of the
rights established at Articles 4, 5, 8(1), 17(1), 19, 24, 25, and 26 of the American Convention,
in relation to the general obligations enshrined in Articles 1(1) and 2 of the same international
instrument. In addition, by application of the principle of iura novit curia the Commission
concludes that the petition is admissible in relation to the possible violation of Article 6(2) of
the Convention. The Commission decides to notify the parties of this decision, publish it, and
include it in its Annual Report to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.


On November 5, 2004, the Commission received the petition and assigned
it number 186-04. On December 8, 2004, it transmitted the pertinent parts to the State,
asking that it submit its response within two months, in keeping with Article 30(2) of the
Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
“Rules of Procedure”). The State’s response was received on February 23, 2005.
In addition, the IACHR received information from the petitioners on the
following dates: December 7, 2004; August 14 and September 18, 2006; December 18, 2007;
July 7, August 4 and 13, October 9, 2008; and April 3 and May 4, 2009. Those communications
were duly forwarded to the State.
Furthermore, the IACHR received observations from the State on the
following dates: January 21, 2005, February 23, 2005; May 27, 2008, October 10 and 21,
2008; and January 28, 2009. Those communications were duly forwarded to the petitioners.
On October 22, 2008, a hearing was held during the 133 rd regular session
of the IACHR on arguments on the admissibility of the petition.

The petitioners

The petitioners argue that the Honduran State has failed to adopt an integral
policy in the areas of social security, public health, and labor as required in order to supervise
the working conditions in underwater fishing in the department of Gracias a Dios, which has
resulted in a systematic violation of the fundamental rights of Miskitu divers, a situation which,
given its extent and gravity, has affected the very integrity of the Miskitu people. They indicate
that the Miskitu indigenous people constitute a binational people who live the territories on
both sides of the border between Honduras and Nicaragua. Most of the Miskitu in Honduras
live in the department of Gracias a Dios, a region known as the mosquitia hondureña, or
Honduran Mosquitia, one of the most marginalized and geographically isolated areas of
Honduras, where living and health conditions are worse than anywhere else in the country. 2
2 According to the petition, the department of Gracias a Dios is part of rural Honduras and is
the second largest department in area in Honduras, extending over 16,998 square kilometers.
It has a population of 71,740, 83.1% Miskitu and the rest Garifuna, Lenca, and Tawahkas.
The department is subdivided into the municipalities of Puerto Lempira, Juan Francisco Bulnes,
Brus Laguna, Villeda Morales, Ahuas, and Wampusirpe. Access to the region is only by air, by
sea, or by river, which makes commerce difficult and drives up the cost of living. Petitioners’
brief of December 18, 2007, p. 1.

Select target paragraph3