Potential outcomes of the crisis within the Secretariat of Human Rights

Photography and text by Fernando Destephen

English translation and edit: Amy Patricia Morales


Guido Eguigure, the vice minister of the Secretariat of Human Rights (SEDH),  resigned from his post on January 15. He is currently awaiting President Xiomara Castro’s decision on whether to accept or reject his resignation. In the meantime, Eguigure is standing alongside a group of colleagues participating in a protest, condemning the State over rights violations and mistreatment.

Eguigure proposes three potential resolutions to this crisis. He stated, “The first, albeit uncertain, involves negotiations.” According to him, the second scenario entails the Secretary of Labor issuing a ruling, leading to “the potential criminalization of some or all of the protesting workers.” This, he cautioned, would carry significant political ramifications for Libertad y Refundación (Libre), aside from the evident legal repercussions. The high-ranking official went on to provide an explanation for this perspective.

“In the future, this could evolve into an emblematic case within the Inter-American System for the Protection Of Human Rights,” said Eguigure. He further noted that it might transform into a situation where an institution, mandated to safeguard and ensure the human rights of Hondurans, finds itself paradoxically violating the rights of its own employees. 

The third scenario envisioned by Eguigure involves the attrition of the workers, although he clarified that he deems it improbable at the moment due to the evident enthusiasm and emotion displayed by the employees sustaining the occupation. Nevertheless, he pointed out that some protesters have reported instances of intimidation involving cars without license plates and motorcycles. 

The Secretariat of Human Rights (SEDH) is currently operating with insufficient staff and a budget of only 150 million lempiras for the year 2024. Out of 170 positions, 140 are currently filled, as the individuals who previously held the remaining 30 positions are involved in legal proceedings against the State. These vacant positions cannot be filled until the case is resolved.

The safeguarding of human rights defenders and journalists relies on the Secretariat of Human Rights (SEDH). In 2022, a crisis unfolded within the SEDH following the departure of several individuals associated with this entity. The controversy involved Minister Natalie Roque, who faced allegations in November 2022 for attempting to interfere in the selection of consultants  for the Protection Mechanism and seeking absolute control over the process.

In May 2023 there was a protest by SEDH employees demanding better treatment by the authorities. On that occasion, Guido Eguigure, who was in his position as undersecretary, issued a statement offering that an investigation would be opened into the allegations, while at the same time calling for dialogue. The protest was dissolved, but the denunciations and the hostile climate continued until culminating in this new takeover, which began on January 18 and in which they say they lost that “fear of party discipline”, as some of these same employees explained in a Space de X de Contracorriente.

In May 2023, employees of the SEDH staged a protest, demanding better treatment from authorities. At that time, Guido Eguigure, serving as the undersecretary, released a statement committing to launch an investigation into the allegations and seeking dialogue. Although the protest dissolved, the complaints and a tense atmosphere persisted, eventually leading to the current occupation that commenced on January 18. During this takeover, employees expressed a newfound independence, as elaborated by some of them in an interview on X with Contracorriente.

Last Wednesday, February 6, President Castro appointed Ricardo Salgado, Secretary of Strategic Planning, as mediator to seek a dialogue. It should be noted that Salgado was included in the U.S. Engels list under the section of “corrupt and anti-democratic actors”, and that he himself has acknowledged being in command of a troop of government boots, better known as digital troops. 

In the meantime, the protesting employees are seeking an end to all this without reprisals for having made public some internal situations, and that their job stability and right to work be respected.

Fernando Destephen 1985 Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Photojournalist and storyteller.

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