Rule of law

Continued investigation into murder of Honduran human rights defender

Who we wrote to

The president of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández.

What’s the issue

We’re seriously concerned about the murder of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran human rights defender, who led activities opposing the building of the Agua Zarca dam on land belonging to the Lenca indigenous people.

She was shot dead by gunmen at her house on 3 March 2016. Ms Cáceres had reported over 30 threats to the authorities before her death, which were not properly investigated.

Her murder could probably have been prevented if the Honduran authorities had taken appropriate measures.

The Honduran authorities had failed to carry out all necessary steps for the effective implementation of the precautionary measures recommended by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in 2009.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant Honduran authorities to:

  • make sure that the investigation into Ms Cáceres’ murder is independent and effective, that all lines of inquiry with sufficient evidence are investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice
  • ensure that other lawyers and human rights defenders in Honduras can carry out their professional activities without fear of intimidation or harassment

We’ll continue to monitor the investigation into Ms Cáceres’ murder, as well as any legal proceedings brought against possible suspects.

Timeline

June 2009 – the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights orders that the Honduran authorities implement precautionary measures to the benefit of Ms Cáceres

March 2016 – Ms Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen outside her house

April 2016 – we wrote to the Honduran authorities to express our concerns

October 2016 – an International Advisory Group of Experts (GAIPE) was set up to gather information on the circumstances surround Ms Cáceres’ murder

November 2017 – GAIPE published its report, which found that high-level executives of the company responsible for the Agua Zarca dam had designed and implemented a strategy to repress all those opposing it. It was alleged that this repression was supported by state security forces

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