Amnesty International demands justice for murdered Honduras environmental activist News
Amnesty International demands justice for murdered Honduras environmental activist

Amnesty International urged the Honduras government to provide justice for the murder of Berta Cáceres on Monday. Cáceres was a renowned figure in environmental and indigenous activism and leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), she was murdered in 2016 at her home in Intibucá, Honduras by armed men.

Americas deputy director for research at Amnesty International Astrid Valencia stated:

Eight years after the murder of Berta Cáceres, her family continues to face an incomplete judicial process that unnecessarily perpetuates their anguish. It is imperative that the Honduran authorities take decisive action to end the cycle of impunity in this case

According to Amnesty International, the murder was connected to Cáceres’s role in fighting against the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project and its cascading effect on the Lenca, an indigenous group habitating the area where the dam was to be constructed. Lenca people considered the construction of the dam a threat for the land, water, and their way of life and therefore have been protesting against the dam project since 2006 which got bolstering support from Cáceres.

The Agua Zarca project, planned to be constructed on the Gualcarque river, was being built by the Honduras electricity company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA). The murder of an indigenous community leader in a protest against the project led to the withdrawal of DESA’s partners, the Chinese company Sinohydro and the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank. The project’s financiers, the Dutch development bank FMO and FinnFund, a Finnish financial corporation, eventually retreated from the project following the murder of Cáceres.

The long struggle of justice for Cáceres finally saw flickering light when DESA’s former manager David Castillo, who was convicted of her murder in 2021, was sentenced to around 23 years in prison in 2022. Moreover, seven people convicted of Cáceres’s murder were sentenced to 30 and 50 years in prison.

Cáceres won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her “grassroot campaign” against the project that did injustice on many folds. The UN urged Honduras to protect human rights defenders following Cáceres’s death. The country was reported as the deadliest place for environmental activists by the Global Witness in 2017.