Global support for an independent investigation into the death of slain Honduran activist Berta Cáceres is growing. Earlier this month, the Honduran government announced that it had arrested four men connected to Cáceres’ death. The Cáceres family and supporters, however, say that it’s not good enough.
“The Honduran state is too closely linked to the murder of my mother to carry out an independent investigation,” said Laura Cárceres, Berta’s daughter. “It is the government who awarded the dam commission and the government who sent military and police to work with DESA’s private security guards, who threatened my mother.” In a statement issued May 10 2016, the Cárceres family calls for an independent investigation to be done by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). This call is echoed by human rights organizations around the world, including Global Witness.
“The people who ordered Berta Cárceres’ murder must be held to account, not just the triggermen,” said Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness. “What’s needed is an independent investigation led by the IACHR.”
The Cárceres family says that an independent investigation by the IACHR would prevent against a conflict of interest as there has been in the state investigation. The family also asks that they be allowed to participate in the investigative process, a right under Honduran law that they had been denied.
Leading up to her murder, Berta reported a total of 33 death threats linked to her advocacy against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam in Rio Blanco. Her life’s work of environmental defence placed her in constant danger. Honduras has been the most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental activist for the last five years. The Goldman environmental prize awarded her courage and strength in 2015.
“Berta Cáceres murder: four men arrested over Honduran activist’s death”, The Guardian, May 2 2016
“Those who ordered Berta Cárceres murder must be held to account, not just the triggermen”, Global Witness, May 3 2016
The international community can play a crucial role by urging the Honduran government to ensure that Berta’s murder is properly investigated and the authors of the crime are also held accountable.