Elmvale woman seeks support from councillors to keep her son-in-law out of jail

·2 min read

An Elmvale woman is seeking a letter of support from councillors to help keep her son-in-law out of jail.

“It’s a horrible thing to be put in a prison,” Janet Spring said.

Spring understands the experience; she visited her son-in-law Edwin Espinal in Honduras’ La Tolva maximum-security prison during the 19 months he was incarcerated. He was released in August 2019, but his trial date has been rescheduled twice due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

She said Espinal was kept in solitary confinement for the first two weeks of his incarceration and when placed with the general population, he and another activist began a hunger strike.

“He was in horrible condition when he was released. They are incarcerated with a lot of gang members and had some death threats made against them,” she said.

A Honduran national, Espinal grew up in an impoverished neighbourhood of Tegucigalpa. Spring said Espinal became a human rights worker to help the community, but soon became the target of the military regime.

“So whenever he was in a protest or covering something or working to help other people, he would be harassed, tasered or arrested,” Spring said.

Her daughter Karen Spring has been working for Rights Action activism in Honduras for more than a decade. She met and married Espinal — in a prison wedding ceremony — and has also worked tirelessly to ensure he will be acquitted when he attends his trial Sept. 13 and 14 in Honduras.

If found guilty of charges of arson, property damage and making explosives, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

Spring’s efforts to raise awareness and maintain global pressure on the Honduran government has led to the creation of the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor. She has contacted municipal, provincial and federal levels of government for their support.

Springwater Mayor Don Allen said council wrote a letter of support in April 2018 and is pleased to write another before the upcoming trial.

“Given the fact that Karen is married to this fellow and the Spring family is very active, and has a long history in our township — are very solid community citizens — there was considerable support rallied around the Spring family,” Allen said.

For more information, visit simcoecountyhondurasrightsmonitor.Wordpress.com.

Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance