Update from the “Justice for Berta Cáceres” International Mission

21 March 2016
Declaration

Tegucigalpa, March 18th, 2016

During the press conference held on March 17th by the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), the National Network of Human Rights Defenders in Honduras and the "Justice for Berta Cáceres" International Mission, participants emphasized that the assassination of Lenca indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on March 3rd of this year was obviously a political crime.

Therefore, they also stressed the urgent need to establish an independent, impartial and transparent international commission in order to solve the crime and the Government of Honduras' obligation to facilitate the investigation and avoid all measures that could delay the process or create confusion.

Furthermore, the International Mission affirmed that the authorities, the President of the Republic and the Public Prosecutor have the obligation to facilitate access to all information and the participation of Berta Cáceres and Gustavo Castro's family in the investigation, while respecting their rights as victims. It was reported, for example, that Berta Cáceres' family was denied their right to name an independent expert for the autopsy.

One of the participants of the International Mission, Brian Finnegan, member of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL/CIO – CSA) argued that measures of protection must urgently be adopted to guarantee the safety of Gustavo Castro Soto, the family of Berta Cáceres and the members of COPINH. 

It was also reported that a meeting was held yesterday with the Public Prosecutor in which the Mission presented its concern with the need to investigate suspicions on the alleged involvement of DESA - the corporation responsible for the Agua Zarca dam project against which Berta Cáceres' organization, COPINH, was fighting - in the crime. Another concern expressed was the lack of clarity on the role of the FBI in the investigation.

Miguel Urbán, Member of the European Parliament for PODEMOS and representative of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), denounced the responsibility of the European Union and the Spanish government, for failure to act, in the crime against Berta Cáceres, the political violence in the country and the assassination of over 110 human rights defenders. Given the level of the impunity in human rights violations in Honduras and the abuse and harassment from the police force towards members of COPINH and other social movements, it was emphasized that the EU must urgently take action in light of the violation of several articles of the European Union-Central America Association Agreement.

Furthermore, it was recalled that the human rights clauses of the cooperation funds and the cooperation and Official Development Aid (ODA) agreements must be enforced. In cases where the Government of Honduras repeatedly and systematically fails to comply with the human rights clauses, the agreements must be cancelled. 

The members of the Mission emphasized their concern with the current situation of Mexican citizen Gustavo Castro Soto. They demanded that the Honduran authorities guarantee the life, personal integrity, safety and immediate return of Gustavo Castro Soto to Mexico. In this sense and in relation to the specific case of Gustavo Castro Soto, the Mission defended the urgent need for the Honduran state to assume, through its legal system, the commitment to immediately address the appeals for legal protection and habeas corpus presented in Gustavo Castro Soto's favour in response to the illegally imposed measures prohibiting him from leaving the country.

It also expressed concern that the Constitutional Division of the Supreme Court, which has received the reports on the measures imposed, interrupts its session for the Holy Week holiday period without making a decision on these appeals. According to the Constitution, the resolution of these appeals must be given urgent and priority treatment, as they concern individuals who are currently deprived of their liberty.

The International Mission also expressed its desire and will to collaborate with social movements in Honduras to ensure that the assassinations of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Noé García are the last ones they need to condemn.

Finally, the Mission announced before the press that it hopes to hold a meeting with the President of the Republic and the Attorney General. 

The “Justicia para Berta Cáceres” International Mission will remain in the country until March 20th and meet with several authorities and social movement organizations. It will also visit Berta Cáceres' family and COPINH's coordinating committee in La Esperanza, Intibucá. The international civil society networks that support the work of the International Mission calls for strong vigilance regarding the respect of human rights that is needed today, March 18th, during the multiple mobilizations to be held in Honduras to protest against the assassination of Berta Cáceres, the Agua Zarca project and the defence of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The delegation includes the following people:

  • Miguel Urbán Crespo - Europe, Member of the European Parliament by PODEMOS - European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)
  • Nora Cortiñas - Argentina, Madre de Plaza de Mayo - Founding Line Pedro Arrojo – Spain, Member of the Spanish Parliament (PODEMOS)
  • José Olvera - México, UNT-CSA México, National Union of Workers / Trade Union Confederation of the Americas
  • Beverly Keene  - Argentina, Coordinator Dialogue 2000-Jubileo Sur Argentina, member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
  • Mirna Perla Jiménez - El Salvador, former magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice in El Salvador
  • Brian Finnegan – United States, AFL/CIO – CSA. American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
  • Zulma Larin - El Salvador, Coordinator of Red de Ambientalistas Comunitarios y Coordinación de la Alianza por la Gobernabilidad y la Justici
  • Natalia Atz Sunuc - Guatemala, Friends of the Earth Latin American and the Caribbean (ATALC)
  • Gustavo Lozano - México, scholar and lawyer of the social movement coalition for the water and the land  (MAPDER and REMA) in cooperation with the Central American movement. 
  • Tom Kucharz - Spain, Political advisor to the PODEMOS delegation in the European Parliament, member of the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity.
  • Miguel Ángel de los Santos - México, Lawyer of the Iberoamerican networks of magistrates. 

To contact the mission:  misioninternacionaljbc@gmail.com  

Latin America: Local number: 0050489748879

  • J. Elosegui (Radio Mundo Real / Friends of the Earth International): 00598-98846967
  • A. Sandoval (Jubileo Sur Américas): 0050587136579

Europe:

  • P. Pof (Podemos): 0034-618 154 002
  • M. Vargas (Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity): 0034-662026497
  • À. Guillamón (Entrepueblos/Entrepobles/Entrepobos/Herriarte): 0034-932683366 / 0034 - 691501789