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Honduras: Global Witness report exposes killings & attacks against environmental & human rights defenders

Global Witness recently published a report on killings and attacks against indigenous and environmental human rights defenders in Honduras. The report concludes that “shocking levels of violence and intimidation suffered by rural communities for taking a stand against the imposition of dams, mines, logging or agriculture on their land – projects that are controlled by rich and powerful elites, among them members of the political class. The root causes of these abuses are widespread corruption and the failure to properly consult those affected by these projects”.

Global Witness invited companies and actors to comment on the two-year investigation report.  Previously, the B&HRRC invited some of the companies to respond to the abuses documented in the document.  The cases and responses are available here:

  • La Aurora and Los Encinos dams; comments are included in the report
  • Mining project of Empresa Minera La Victoria
  • Agribusiness activities of Dinant
  • Hydroelectric project of DESA; comments are included in the report & other responses are available here
  • Logging in Tolupan land of company Velomato
  • Tourirsm project Indura Beach & Golf Resort; other responses are available hereDefenders_Honduras_Global_Witness
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16 March 2017

Honduras: Global Witness & partners target of "smear campaign" following report on attacks against land & environmental defenders

Author: Ben Leather, Global Witness

"Honduran government must counter smear campaign against land and environmental defenders and protect those under threat", 16 Mar 2017

Global Witness is calling on the Honduran state to crack down on an online smear campaign against groups working to protect land and environmental defenders in Honduras... “We don’t yet know who is behind this campaign... We do know this is an attempt to deflect attention from the high level corruption and abuses we exposed...” said..campaigner Ben Leather... In January Global Witness published the findings of its...investigation...[demonstrating]...Honduras is the deadliest country per capita for land and environmental defenders [and] how projects...are linked to rich and powerful elites... Since this time, members of...MILPAH and COPINH have been subject to increased...harassment, ...other defenders have been threatened with lawsuits by companies.  Global Witness and its international partners including Oxfam and Frontline Defenders have meanwhile been subject to a smear campaign on social media... [T]weets and videos even accuse[d] the groups of covering up for hitmen...who have carried out attacks. “Global Witness is an internationally renowned organisation, with over 20 years of reputable reporting. Winner of both the Skoll Award and the Ted Prize in 2014, the organisation is not aligned to any political party or movement...” said Leather. “Our report on Honduras was the fruit of a two-year investigation which involved...painstaking... corroboration of witness testimony...".

Read the full post here

3 February 2017

Honduran authorities threaten Global Witness with legal action over its report on killings & violence against defenders opposing large commercial projects

Author: Global Witness

…Global Witness condemns the attempts by Honduran authorities and industry spokespeople to undermine and politicise our new investigation into the killings of land and environmental defenders in Honduras. The Honduran State must guarantee the security of Global Witness's staff Billy Kyte and Ben Leather, as well as that of the local human rights defenders associated with the report…We are deeply alarmed by the threat of legal action from high level officials in the Honduran Government and expect protective measures to be implemented and the rights of our staff to be protected...

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2 February 2017

Honduras: The deadliest country in the world for environmental activism

Author: Global Witness

…More than 120 people have died since 2010, according to Global Witness research. The victims were ordinary people who took a stand against dams, mines, logging or agriculture on their land –murdered by state forces, security guards or hired assassins. Countless others have been threatened, attacked or imprisoned…Following a two-year investigation into who’s behind these murders we can reveal how projects at the heart of conflicts are linked to the country’s rich and powerful elites, among them members of the political class. Our investigation sheds light on the back-door deals, bribes and lawbreaking used to impose projects and silence opposition…Foreign investors and International Financial Institutions should stop any planned investments in the industries causing the violence - mining, dams, logging, tourism and large-scale agricultural projects…

Read the full post here

2 February 2017

Honduras: The deadliest place to defend the planet [Report]

Author: Global Witness

The case studies in this report bring to light new evidence of the corrupt and criminal acts that are driving this violence, allowing well-connected Hondurans to push through their business deals at huge cost to whole communities and the environment. They include the stories of:

  • Ana Miriam and her sister-in-law Rosaura, both pregnant, who were beaten after reporting threats for opposing the Los Encinos hydroelectric project  [of  Inversiones Encinos S.A. and Inversiones Aurora S.A]…When asked to comment by Global Witness on these allegations, Gladis López denied any involvement in the consultation meeting for the Los Encinos project…Her husband Arnold Castro denied any responsibility for attacks against indigenous activists…
  • Seven men have been charged with the murder of Berta Cáceres, two of whom have links to DESA, the company that owns the Agua Zarca dam…The Dutch development bank FMO, together with Finnish government-owned Finnfund, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) are financing DESA’s construction of the Agua Zarca dam… When asked to comment by Global Witness on these allegations, DESA denied any involvement…
  • Concepción Gutiérrez, who reported being threatened for refusing to sell her land to a mining company [Buena Vista I Mine of Empresa Minera La Victoria] owned by businessman Lenir Pérez. The international observers assigned to her protection were abducted….Lenir Pérez’s father-in-law was Miguel Facussé, one of Honduras’ wealthiest businessmen…[b]efore his death...Facussé owned Dinant, an agribusiness and biofuels giant accused of serious human rights violations, including the murder of scores of smallscale farmers opposed to palm oil plantations in Bajo Aguán, northern Honduras. Global Witness approached Lenir Pérez and David Zaccaro for comment on these allegations but received no responses…
  • Tolupan indigenous leaders Armando Fúnez Medina, Ricardo Soto Fúnez, and María Enriqueta who were shot and killed whilst taking part in a peaceful protest against the passage of mining and logging trucks through their territory. [The ex-general’s’s nephew, Kenton Uclés, has also been embroiled in conflict with the Tolupan…His logging company Velomato was reportedly granted an illegal concessions]… Global Witness approached Lenir Pérez and David Zaccaro for comment on these allegations but received no responses...
  • The Afro-Honduran community of Barra Vieja, who resisted attempts by police and government officials to forcibly evict them from their land, in favour of a five-star hotel complex [Desarrollo Turístico Bahía de Tela…Hilton became associated with the Indura Beach and Golf Result project in 2016]… Global Witness approached Desarrollo Turístico Bahía de Tela for comment on these allegations but received no response….

Download the full document here