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Honduras: Eight years after her murder, expert organizations demand end to judicial delays paralyzing justice for Berta Cáceres

The Americas/Europe

March 1, 2024

On the eighth anniversary of the death of Berta Cáceres, the members of the Technical Observation Mission express their deepest solidarity with her family, the Lenca People organized in the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and her comrades who worked alongside her in her internationally recognized struggle for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and their ancestral territories. We support and join in the demand for comprehensive justice for her heinous murder that occurred on March 2, 2016 in retaliation for her remarkable and unwavering leadership to stop the Desarrollos Energeticos S.A. (DESA) hydroelectric project on the sacred Gualcarque River.

The Observation Mission was created by national and international human rights organizations in 2018 to provide ongoing technical accompaniment of the criminal proceedings in the Berta Cáceres case. We observed the two trials in their entirety, that of the material perpetrators in 2018 and that of the co-perpetrator in 2021.

On repeated occasions, we have warned about judicial irregularities that affect the victims. Today, we denounce that the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice - more than 5 and 2 years later, respectively - has still not issued the sentences in relation to the appeals filed after the convictions. It is unacceptable that the highest Honduran court refuses to issue final judgments, which constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to a judicial process without undue delay and a clear breach of the guarantee of non-repetition.

The Public Prosecutor's Office announced that it was prosecuting one of the intellectual authors of the reprehensible murder of Berta Cáceres; however, we express deep concern that no progress has been made, indicating that the Honduran State has not acted with due diligence in this emblematic case. Moreover, during the trial against David Castillo in 2021, relevant information came to light and this Mission urgently insisted on further investigation of the crimes committed in the same context of the assassination of Cáceres and that those responsible be punished.

The member organizations of the Observation Mission urge the Honduran State to ensure justice for Berta, not only in terms of the need to issue definitive sentences for all those responsible for her assassination, but also to ensure that justice is done for those responsible for the numerous related crimes that have been committed against her and the Lenca people of Rio Blanco.

The assassination of Berta Cáceres provoked outrage and deep sadness worldwide. Her clarity, vision, humanist legacy and leadership continue to guide struggles for justice around the world; in this spirit, we stand firm in our support and demand for justice undertaken by her family and COPINH.

  • Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH)

  • Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH)

  • Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” (CAJAR)

  • Equipo Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos (EJDH) - Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-sj)

  • FIDH (Federación Internacional por los Derechos Humanos), en el marco del Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

  • Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC/USA)

  • Protection International para Mesoamérica

  • Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT), en el marco del Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

  • Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad (PICI)

  • Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

  • Lauren Carasik, Global Justice Clinic, Western New England University

  • Joseph Berra, Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA School of Law

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