On Wednesday, May 18, the National Criminal Sentencing Court in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is scheduled to announce the sentence imposed on David Castillo, former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos and in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, who was convicted nine months ago as a co-author of the killing of human rights defender Berta Cáceres in 2016.
“Knowing the punishment handed down on those who participated in the heinous crime against Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres is a key moment in the search for truth, justice and reparation for her family, who have endured a wait of more than six years for this. The Honduran authorities must show themselves equal to the task and ensure that the sentence, including its implementation, is in line with the highest human rights standards, ensuring that Berta’s killing does not go unpunished,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
“Unfortunately, this process does not end here. Around the world, the wait continues to know the full truth about the killing of Berta Cáceres so that all those responsible can be held accountable. Berta Cáceres’ case must set a precedent for access to justice for human rights defenders in Honduras who continue to lose their lives in order to save our planet.”
On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres, a courageous defender of the environment and Indigenous rights, was shot dead by armed men in her home in Intibucá, Honduras. She was the coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and campaigned against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project and the impact it would have on the territory of the Lenca Indigenous people.
Human rights defenders in Honduras continue be attacked with impunity. Killings are the biggest danger faced by environmental defenders in the country, which, according to Global Witness has the world’s second-highest homicide rate per capita. The start of 2022 has been particularly deadly for environmental defenders in Honduras, with two activists found dead in January.
Amnesty International has also documented threats, including disappearances, targeting environmentalists. Today, the whereabouts of four members of the Garifuna Indigenous community belonging to the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), who have been missing since July 2020, remain unknown.
Despite the seriousness of the attacks on these defenders, Honduras has not yet signed the Escazú Agreement, the first environmental human rights treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean, which obliges signatory states to protect environmental defenders and entered into force on April 22, 2021.
Honduras: Conviction of David Castillo is a step towards justice, but full truth must be uncovered (News, July 5, 2021)
Five years after Berta Cáceres was murdered, states are still failing to protect human rights defenders (News, March 5, 2021) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/03/asesinato-berta-caceres-estados-siguen-sin-proteger-defensores/
Honduras: Authorities must guarantee transparency in trial of man accused of plotting the murder of Berta Cáceres (News, October 22, 2020) https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/10/honduras-autoridades-deben-garantizar-transparencia-david-castillo/
Contact: Gabby Arias, [email protected]