Sept. 17, 2018 – Amnesty International will observe the trial of eight people accused of the 2016 murder of Honduran human rights defender Berta Cáceres, beginning next Monday, 17 September at the Supreme Court of Justice in Tegucigalpa.
“It’s crucial that the Honduran authorities ensure that this trial meets international standards of fairness and that justice prevails in one of the most emblematic crimes in the nation’s recent history,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
“In a country plagued by threats and attacks against land and environmental human rights defenders, Honduras’ justice system can set an important precedent by upholding Berta’s family’s rights to truth, justice and reparation, and by showing that the killing of human rights defenders will not go unpunished.”
A representative of Amnesty International, Kathy Price, will attend the trial from 17 to 19 September, while other members of the organization will monitor the proceedings remotely and in person throughout the remainder of the trial. Price will be available for interviews in person, on Skype or by phone.
The observation mission aims to monitor the authorities’ compliance with fair trial guarantees to ensure that all those responsible for Cáceres’ death are brought to justice. Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed grave concern that the investigation by the Honduran authorities has been seriously flawed and failed to investigate leads into those who may have been involved in ordering her killing.
On 2 March 2016, Berta Cáceres, a defender of the environment and Indigenous rights, was shot dead by gunmen in her home in Intibucá, Honduras. Together with other members of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), she had campaigned against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project and the impact it would have on the territory of the Indigenous Lenca People.
The Honduran Attorney General’s office has charged eight people with Cáceres’ murder, including some individuals linked to Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), the company building the Agua Zarca dam, and others with ties to the military, but COPINH is concerned that the authorities have not investigated any high-ranking officials in the government or the company for allegedly ordering her murder.
Amnesty International has documented a pattern of threats and increased stigmatization against those who seek truth, justice and reparation for Cáceres’ killing and others who dare to report on the actions of powerful companies against local Indigenous Peoples or rural communities. Last year, the NGO Global Witness named Honduras the deadliest country in the world for environmental human rights defenders, documenting more than 120 defenders killed there since 2010.