Justice Urged for Murder of Renowned Activist Berta Cáceres by Amnesty International

Tegucigalpa, Honduras – Amnesty International has called on the government of Honduras to ensure justice is served for the murder of renowned environmental and indigenous activist Berta Cáceres. Cáceres, who was the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was tragically killed in her home in Intibucá, Honduras in 2016 by armed men.

The deputy director for research for the Americas at Amnesty International, Astrid Valencia, emphasized the urgent need for the Honduran authorities to take decisive action to bring an end to the cycle of impunity in Cáceres’s case. Eight years after her murder, Cáceres’s family continues to face an incomplete judicial process, adding to their ongoing anguish.

According to Amnesty International, Cáceres’s murder was linked to her activism against the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project, which posed a threat to the land, water, and way of life of the indigenous Lenca people in the area. The Lenca community had been protesting the dam project since 2006, with Cáceres providing crucial support to their efforts.

The Agua Zarca project, planned for construction on the Gualcarque river, was being developed by the Honduras electricity company DESA. Following Cáceres’s murder during a protest against the project, DESA’s partners – including the Chinese company Sinohydro and the International Finance Corporation, a subsidiary of the World Bank – withdrew their support. Subsequently, the project’s financiers, the Dutch development bank FMO and Finnish financial corporation FinnFund, also pulled out.

Justice for Cáceres seemed to be within reach when DESA’s former manager, David Castillo, was convicted of her murder in 2021 and sentenced to approximately 23 years in prison in 2022. In addition, seven individuals found guilty of Cáceres’s murder received sentences ranging from 30 to 50 years.

Cáceres, honored with the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her grassroots campaign against the Agua Zarca project, was a symbol of courage and dedication in defending human rights and the environment. Her tragic death sparked calls from the United Nations for better protection of human rights defenders in Honduras, a country that has been deemed one of the most dangerous places for environmental activists by the Global Witness organization.