Honduras: Second member of indigenous group murdered within 2 weeks, Dutch development bank suspends activity
“I cannot freely walk on my territory or swim in the sacred river and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live in peace, I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.”
Berta Cáceres in a 2013 interview with the Guardian
I strongly condemn the assassination of #BertaCaceres and call for a thorough and independent investigation
— Michel Forst SR HRD (@ForstMichel) March 3, 2016
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to the companies and funders reportedly involved in the Agua Zarca project for statements on the assassination and on the safety & security of community members and others advocating on the project. We will indicate below any statements we receive.
Entities reportedly involved in financing Agua Zarca dam project:
- Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI)
- Finnfund statement & FAQ
- FMO statement & FAQ
- Siemens statement
- USAID statement
- Voith statement
Companies reportedly involved in project development & implementation:
- COPRECA statement (only available in Spanish)
- Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA)
Note: Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering & construction company, cited conflicts between the company (DESA) and local communities for leaving the project in 2013. See statement here. The Intl. Finance Corporation has also been allegedly linked to the project, but it denied its involvement.
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The violent deaths of the two COPINH members Berta Cáceres and Nelson García have affected us deeply. According to the latest information available to us, the Honduran authorities have apparently arrested four suspects. We expressly welcome that the country’s investigative authorities – as repeatedly requested by us – are taking concrete steps to solve the crime and that their investigations have apparently produced visible results. We have taken note that, according to media reports, two of the four suspects are alleged to be associated with the operator of the hydropower plant Agua Zarca, DESA, in one way or another. According to the reports we have seen, they are a current and a former employee of DESA. After a thorough examination of the situation, we have informed our customer DESA yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, May 03, 2016/CEST) that we are suspending all deliveries for the project due to the existing suspicion against current or former employees of DESA until further notice. We have requested DESA to cooperate with the authorities and to provide an instant response to the allegations...
Honduras: CABEI announces participation in high level mission with FMO to Agua Zarca hydroelectric project
In relation to the participation of CABEI in the financing of the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca, CABEI informs the following…CABEI, with FMO and other entities, will participate in a high level mission that will visit the site of the project and will have meetings with the neighboring communities; as well as with governmental entities of the Republic of Honduras…CABEI will analyze and respond in accordance with the FMO regarding the actions it will take in relation the hydroelectric project Agua Zara after those visits.
[This is a non-official translation of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; the complete statement is available in Spanish here].
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- Related companies: Sinohydro
Dutch development bank FMO suspends activity in Honduras following killing of second member of indigenous group
FMO is shocked by the news that Nelson Garcia, another COPINH member, has been murdered in Honduras. After the recent violent death of Berta Cáceres, we have called upon the Honduran government to do anything in their power to stop the ongoing violence and killings in their country. The right of speech for those who speak up for their rights and the livelihoods of people are of very high value to FMO. Every individual should be safe when defending their position. FMO rejects and condemns any violence against those individuals or groups.
Given the current situation, with ongoing violence, FMO decided to suspend all activities in Honduras, effective immediately. This means that we will not engage in new projects or commitments and that no disbursements will be made, including the Agua Zarca project. As already announced, a delegation, including our CEO and FMO’s director for the Energy Sector, will travel to Honduras and visit the communities around the Agua Zarca project to get a complete understanding of the current situation. FMO has invited NGOs to support it in those efforts. This mission will be undertaken as soon as the safety situation allows for it. We will also do a thorough investigation on all the other projects in Honduras it is involved in. On the basis of each investigation, further decisions will be made on the continued involvement of FMO.
Author: Development Today
The Finnish aid-financed investment fund Finnfund is suspending disbursements to the controversial Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, 12 days after the murder of Berta Cáceres, a leading opponent of the project. The lead lender to Agua Zarca, the Dutch investor FMO, issued a press release Wednesday announcing it was suspending “all activities in Honduras effective immediately”, citing “ongoing violence”. The CEO of Finnfund Jaakko Kangasniemi confirms to Development Today that Finnfund is following the same line... “We are suspending disbursements to the project,” Kangasniemi says. He stresses that he does not believe there is any link between the project and the death of Cáceres, which he calls “shocking”. “We still believe that the people in the affected areas want this project. But at this juncture we have to take a look at the situation,” he says...Kangasniemi says he will be part of a delegation consisting of officials from FMO and Finnfund that will travel to Honduras as soon as the situation allows. Asked whether they plan to meet with COPINH, he says: “We have always expressed a willingness to talk to COPINH … If it is possible to have a serious discussion and real dialogue, then we are keen to do so.”..
Honduras: Nelson Garcia, indigenous leader, assassinated reportedly during police eviction of group from occupied land
Nelson Garcia, a member of the same Indigenous rights group as murdered activist Berta Caceres, has been assassinated in Honduras, local media reported Tuesday. Less than two weeks after Caceres was gunned down in her home by unknown assailants, Garcia was killed after being shot four times in the face in the Rio Chiquito community. Both were outspoken members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous organizations of Honduras (COPINH).Local reports suggest that the assassination happened during an evacuation of occupied land executed by Honduran military police...According to local sources, 20 police officers, 20 soldiers and 20 anti-riot police arrived at 8 a.m. to begin evicting the group.“They said that they would be peaceful and they were not going to throw anyone out of their houses, but at midday they started to tear down the houses, they destroyed the maize, the banana trees and the yuca plantations,” said Tomas Gomez, a COPINH coordinator...Garcia, the father of five children, was the leader of the community sitting in Rio Chiquito...Human and environment rights activists say that they are targeted in violent attacks in Honduras.The assassination of Berta Caceres has put international scrutiny on the Honduran government and supporters of multinational projects in the Central American country.On Monday, activists called on the U.S. Agency for International Development’ to cut support for the Agua Zarca dam project, which was vehemently opposed by Berta Caceres and her community...
Protection of economic, social & cultural rights defenders is needed for inclusive & sustainable development, according to expert
Author: Navi Pillay, ISHR
“Realising ESC rights requires participation and protection of ESC rights defenders”, 14 Mar 2016
The recent death of Honduran human rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres is a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by so many of those who dedicate their lives to promoting and protecting the human rights of others.The situation is particularly grave for defenders of economic social and cultural rights…These restrictions and attacks on ESC rights defenders amount to restrictions and attacks on ESC rights and sustainable development itself. That is why it is so important and timely that the UN Human Rights Council is currently negotiating a resolution on the protection of ESC rights defenders…
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Finnfund strongly condemns the murder and calls for a thorough investigation on the events. We expect those responsible to be held accountable. We reject any form of violence, and believe our projects are best served when all voices are heard and understood, and these voices should be protected…The land required for the project on the left hand bank was purchased from 16 individuals through the willing-buyer-willing-seller approach. There was no communal land acquired... his project will not involve relocation of indigenous peoples from their lands or territories. It will also have no major impact on their livelihoods or any communal land. FPIC is not required for this project…FPIC was nevertheless obtained through a public consultation process that started in the Right Bank communities in 2011 and with Left Bank communities in 2014…
UN expert on human rights defenders calls on Honduras government investigate Berta Caceres death & to protect Gustavo Castro; other UN experts endorse the call
Author: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
“Honduras: Another defender needs protection after Berta Cáceres’s killing – UN expert”, 10 Mar 2016
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, today called upon the Government of Honduras to ensure the safety and protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican defender, who was hurt during the assassination of Berta Cáceres. Honduran authorities prevented Mr. Castro Soto…from leaving the country for Mexico…Honduras should make sure that an immediate, independent and impartial investigation takes place on the death of Berta Cáceres…The statement…has been endorsed by the UN Special Rapporteurs on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye and on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, John Knox…
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