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Honduras: Report of the Independent Fact Mission on the human rights impacts of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project presents possible scenarios for FMO exit

An Independent Fact Finding Mission presented a report on the social and human rights impacts of the hydroelectric project of Agua Zarca. The report also describes two possible scenarios: 1) exit by FMO with continuation of the Project , and 2) exit by FMO without continuation of the Project.

FMO has published their response to this report.

Both Ends and SOMO and COPINH have published their comments regarding FMO´s response. 

fmo_protest_honduras_Credit_COPINH

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Article
1 October 2016

COPINH rejects FMO’s Mission Report on the Agua Zarca Project

Author: COPINH (Honduras)

COPINH rejects the biased report of the FMO’s Mission, which seeks to whitewash the Agua Zarca Project and hide the systematic violence imposed by the project. The report clearly seeks to justify the continuation of the Agua Zarca Project after the murder of our General Coordinator Berta Caceres and to discredit, minimize, and criminalize COPINH and the dignified opposition to the project…The report ignores the systematic violence and repression carried out by people associated with DESA…The Mission’s report contributes to the criminalization of COPINH…The report distorts and manipulates the concepts relating to international obligations in ILO Convention 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…We demand that the FMO, Finn Fund, and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) immediately and definitively withdraw from the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project.  We also demand FMO, Finn Fund, and CABEI never again invest in projects that violate the right of free, prior, and informed consultation…

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Article
30 September 2016

Two new reports confirm the need for lenders to exit responsibly from the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras

Author: SOMO & Both ENDS

…Last week, the report of an independent factfinding mission (IM) commissioned by the Dutch development bank, FMO, showed that the lenders failed to ensure that the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project in Honduras complied with international standards. The report also stated that the project provoked and deepened violence amongst communities which would be affected by the project. In response to this report, the FMO committed to exit the project in a responsible way after they consult with all stakeholders. SOMO and Both ENDS welcome FMO’s exit of the project and cautions FMO not to pass along this flawed project to another lender…[T]he United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…who condemned the Agua Zarca Project…questioning why the lenders did not take the violence surrounding the project more seriously, stating, “It is worrying that, despite this situation, the investing banks never saw a reason to question their support to the Project.”…

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Article
8 September 2016

FMO management response to the report and recommendations of the Independent Fact Finding Mission on Agua Zarca

Author: FMO

…FMO announced its intention to exit from the project when a person associated with our client was accused of being complicit in the murder of Berta Caceres. However, there is clear evidence that the project has a good deal of support from directly affected communities and brings substantial social benefits as well. If the project does not continue, it can be expected that the communities will return to a poverty cycle of subsistence living. Further to discussion with stakeholders, it appears unlikely that an exit from the Project will solve the conflict. On the other hand, “during meetings with project opponents and COPINH, it became apparent […] that if the project was not completely abandoned, this would result in the continuation of the opposition campaign.” The continuation of the opposition campaign is likely to have a negative impact, and the division between the affected communities will remain. This could also result in the re-escalation of violence. FMO response: Our decision about the responsible exit will reflect all of the above findings. The report clearly shows the complexity of the situation. Therefore, all parties involved must be heard, including all local communities, the client, the other lenders and international NGO’s.

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Article
7 September 2016

Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project. Independent Fact Finding Mission: Report and Recommendations

Author: Julian Burger, Margarita Escartin, Nataly Ponce & Leo Valladares Lanza

The present report is the result of a Mission to evaluate the social, environmental and human rights impacts on local communities of the Agua Zarca Project in Honduras. The Mission was undertaken at the request of FMO, one of the funders of the development…The report notes the high level of violence associated with the Project since its inception in 2011. The Project gained international attention when Berta Caceres, the Director of COPINH, the principal opponent of the Project and well-known environmental campaigner, was assassinated in March 2016…During meetings with Project opponents and COPINH, it became apparent to the Mission that if the Project was not completely abandoned, this would result in the continuation of the opposition campaign…This could also result in a re-escalation of violence. All communities expressed a desire for all violent conflict directed at them to cease. However, where acts of violence are not investigated, and the perception of an environment of sustained impunity, it may be that the conflictual environment experienced in the past is escalated in the short term. The Mission notes that, while the majority of communities in the Project area appear to favour continuation of the development, those who oppose do need to have their concerns addressed in good faith and measures taken to respond to grievances and rebuild trust…

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