REPORT No. 64/18
CASE 12.738
REPORT ON THE MERITS
OPARIO LEMOTH MORRIS AND OTHERS (MISKITO DIVERS)
HONDURAS
MAY 8, 2018

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On November 5, 2004, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter the
Commission or the IACHR) received a petition filed by Arquímedes García López, Cendela López Milton, and
Bans López Solaisa (hereinafter the petitioners). Afterwards, the Center for Justice and International Law
(CEJIL) was established. The petition alleged that the State of Honduras (hereinafter the State or the Honduran
State) was responsible for violating several rights to the detriment of the divers of the Miskito indigenous
people who live in the department of Gracias a Dios.
2.
According to the petitioners, the State failed to fulfill its obligation to oversee the working
conditions of the divers of the Miskito indigenous people who are engaged in underwater fishing. They pointed
out that these persons were the victims of labor exploitation, which has led to the deaths of many of them or to
physical disabilities, a situation which has not been duly addressed by the State. They added that domestic
proceedings have not been effective in securing reparations and justice. They alleged that the case is part of a
structural problem of poverty, neglect, and exclusion that the State has not tackled.
3.
As for the State, it pointed out that it did not incur any international responsibility because it
has a legal system that adequately governs labor ties between employers and workers, including the situation
of the Miskito divers. It contended that, at all times, their rights were respected and that, in those cases where
abuses were reported, sound and diligent investigations were conducted to determine who was responsible in
order to determine compensation for their benefit.
4.
After examining available information, the Commission concluded that the State of Honduras
is responsible for the violation of the rights to life, personal integrity, prohibition of slavery and servitude, a
fair trial, protection of the family, rights of the child, equality and non-discrimination, judicial protection, and
the progressive development of the rights to health and work as enshrined in Articles 4.1, 5.1, 6.1, 6.2, 8.1, 19,
24, 25.1, and 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter the American Convention or the
Convention), in connection with the obligations set forth in Articles 1.1 and 2 of the same instrument, to the
detriment of the persons who are specified throughout the present report and its annexes. The Commission
made the respective recommendations.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE IACHR

5.
On November 5, 2004, the Commission received the initial petition. The proceedings, from the
filing of the petition up to the decision on admissibility, are explained in detail in the report on admissibility
121/09 issued on November 12, 2009.1
6.
On December 2, 2009, the Commission notified the report to the parties. The petitioners
submitted their observations on April 2, 2010. The State submitted its observations on the merits on October
8, 2010. Afterwards, the IACHR received communications from both parties, which were duly forwarded to the
respective parties. On October 24, 2011, a hearing was held, attended by both parties, in the framework of the
Commission’s 143rd period of sessions. The State of Honduras indicated, in the stage of the merits, on various

IACHR, Report No, 121/09, Petition 1186-04, Admissibility, Opario Lemoth Morris and others (Miskito Divers), Honduras, November 12,
2009. Available at: https://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/2009sp/Honduras1186-04.sp.htm. In this report, the IACHR ruled that the
petition was admissible in connection with the possible violation of the rights enshrined in Articles 4, 5, 6.2, 8, 17.1, 19, 24, 25, and 26 of
the American Convention in connection with the obligations set forth in Articles 1.1 and 2 of the same instrument.
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