The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
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Over 50 Organizations Issue Letter to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez Demanding an Independent International Investigation into the Murder of Environmental and Indigenous Activist Berta Caceres

Dear President Juan Orlando Hernandez,

We, a group of 50+ international organisations, write to express our shock and concern over the recent killing of Berta Caceres, environmental activist and head of the indigenous rights group COPINH.

Dear President Juan Orlando Hernandez,

We, a group of 50+ international organisations, write to express our shock and concern over the recent killing of Berta Caceres, environmental activist and head of the indigenous rights group COPINH.

As you will know, Mrs Caceres was shot dead by gunmen in the late hours of 2 March 2016. Over the years she had received multiple death threats and attempted kidnappings because of her work defending indigenous Lenca land against the Agua Zarca dam project in Rio Blanco.i These threats had escalated in recent weeks since construction of the dam had restarted.

We demand an independent international investigation into the circumstances around Mrs Caceres' death, and guaranteed protection for her family and colleagues. Mrs Caceres was granted emergency protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of her acute vulnerability, but she claimed the Honduran state did not fully implement them.

We also demand urgent action to protect Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist who witnessed her assassination, and to ensure his safe passage back to Mexico.
Mrs Caceres' case is the most high-profile killing within a growing trend in the murder, violence and intimidation of people defending their indigenous land rights in Honduras. Honduras is the world's most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental or land defender, with at least 109 people killed between 2010 and 2015.

Mrs Caceres' case has not escaped international attention. In a statement issued in response to her death U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy called on you to find and punish those responsible for "this despicable crime." Last year, US Senator Barbara Boxer wrote a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging for better protection of environmental defenders in Honduras. This was in direct response to Mrs Caceres winning the 2015 Goldman Environment Prize - a prestigious award recognizing grassroots environmental activists from around the world. News of her death has generated substantial international media attention.

The 50+ international organisations listed below call on the Honduran state to ensure indigenous peoples' right to their land is respected and that they are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear for their safety.

Yours faithfully,
Goldman Environmental Prize
Front Line Defenders
Global Witness
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Bank Information Center
Amazon Watch
AIDA (Asociacion Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente)
Oakland Institute (USA)
Environmental Investigation Agency US (EIA US)
Greenpeace International
Greenpeace USA
Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand:
Greenpeace in Central & Eastern Europe
Greenpeace International
Greenpeace Greece
Greenpeace in Central & Eastern Europe
EarthRights International
Global Green Grants Fund
International Service for Human Rights
Peace Brigades International
War on Want
Friends of the Earth International
Friends of the Earth US
EcoWaste Coalition
Right Livelihood Award Foundation
Jenifer Altman Foundation
Rainforest Action Network
International Rivers CESTA/Friends of the Earth El Salvador and Goldman Prize winner
National Toxics Network Inc.
Secretaire General Alternatives Durables pour le Developpement
Alaska Community Action on Toxics
Lynn Henning, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, 2010 Goldman winner
The Story of Stuff Project
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand
Red de Accion en Plaguicidas y Alternativas en Mexico (RAPAM)
South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
Jan Chetana
People and Water Slovakia
BaliFokus Foundation
Armenian Women For Health And Healthy Environment (AWHHE)
Greenpeace Switzerland
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Huntington (OVEC)
Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue)
Salva la Selva
Jorge Varela Marque, Goldman Prize Winner 1999
Coalition against Land Grabbing - Philippines:
Central America Women's Network
Common Frontiers Canada
Loire Vivante
Eco-Accord Centre

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