One of the leading indigenous activists and human rights defenders in Honduras, Berta Cáceres had worked jointly with the ICJ on several projects. She was shot dead by unknown attackers at her home today.
The ICJ urges the Honduran authorities to launch a rapid and independent investigation to identify who perpetrated and/or ordered the murder of Berta Cáceres and bring the person(s) responsible into court.
“We have lost a courageous and committed human rights defender,” said Ramón Cadena, ICJ’s Regional Director for Central America.
“It is essential that this crime does not remain unpunished. The government must send a strong signal and take immediately measures to effectively investigate this killing and hold those responsible to account,” he added.
A relentless defender of indigenous peoples rights to land and natural resources, Berta Cáceres had been awarded the Goldmann Environmental Prize in 2015 (photo).
It is a huge loss not only for her family, but also for the whole human rights movement in Honduras, the ICJ said.
Berta Cáceres had received repeated death threats from both state security forces and the company planning the Agua Zarca dam, which she had successfully fought against, together with residents of the Lenca Community.
She had been placed under the protection of the local police in La Esperanza, the area where she lived. Obviously this was not enough.
The situation of human rights defenders in Honduras is dire and has continuously deteriorated in the recent years, with their activities being systematically criminalized.