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6 Oct 2023

Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) via ECCJ

Open Letter on the CSDDD: From Bertha Zúniga Cácere to the European Union

Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, the General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH), writes to Members of the European Parliament, Representatives of EU Member States on the Council of the European Union, European Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Internal Market Mr Thierry Breton. COPINH fights for the environmental, cultural, social, health, economic and educational rights of Honduras’s largest indigenous group, the Lenca people.

The letter calls on EU policymakers to strengthen the European Union Corporate Sustainable Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), ensure comprehensive due diligence obligations, and provide avenues for victims to seek justice, ultimately demonstrating the EU’s commitment to responsible corporate conduct.

She is the granddaughter of Austra Berta Flores, who was the mayor of La Esperanza, governor of Intibucá and deputy in the National Congress. And the daughter of Berta Cáceres, one of Honduras’s most high-profile activists awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. Her mother, Berta Cáceres, was a courageous defender of human rights and the environment, tragically murdered on 3 March 2016 for her advocacy in Honduras.

Honduras is one of the deadliest countries in the world for environmental defenders, home to 14 lethal attacks in 2022. In her struggle for justice, Bertha emphasises the importance of including the financial sector within the CSDD obligations to prevent corporate abuses and highlights the critical role the directive can play in improving access to justice for communities affected by such abuses in the Global South. The directive needs to ensure a fair distribution of the burden of proof, ensure that the limitation periods for bringing liability claims are reasonable, that claimants have recourse to collective redress mechanisms, and that civil society organisations and trade unions are entitled to bring representative actions on behalf of victims.

The directive must ensure the protection of human rights, and that is robust and effective enough to prevent the type of case which has affected Bertha’s family from happening again, enabling access to justice for victims in European courts when abuses still happen.