Photo; Encounter of international accompaniment and observation organizations, Bogota 2017
The International Network of Organizations of Accompaniment and Observation, formed by some 14 organizations, met in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, for their annual meeting and published the following statement:
Two years after the murder of human rights defender Berta Isabel Caceres Flores, Lenca indigenous leader, general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH in its Spanish acronym), the organizations of the International Network of Organizations of International Follow-up and Observation welcome the capture of one of the alleged masterminds on March 3rd of this year. However, we express our concern about the lack of progress in the investigations into the case, since to date no conviction has been issued, as expressed by family members and social organizations in Honduras .
The organizations that make up the International Network of Organizations of Accompaniment and Observation accompany defenders, communities and organizations in their work to defend territory and the environment in Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. From our work of accompaniment, we observe that those who defend nature and natural commons are among the groups that face the most risks for their work. Recently, the international organization Global Witness recorded that in 2017 alone, 197 people working around this issue have been killed . We also highlight the high and differentiated risks to which women defenders are exposed. In addition, the high rate of impunity in cases of assault on defenders in these countries is worrisome .
Like other international organizations , the subscribed organizations observe that those who defend territory and the environment face de-legitimization, discredit, stigmatization and criminalization processes, which affect the personal, organizational, family and community [level], and generate an adverse context for the defense of the right to territory and the environment.
The work of the defenders of the land and territory is fundamental for the guarantee of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights as a means to have a decent life. The organizations of the Network consider it key that the international community publicly recognize their important work. Likewise, that it guarantees the integral monitoring of the bodies that investigate the cases of attacks to defenders, with the objective of achieving justice and reparation for the victims and their families.
Finally, we consider it important for the international community to put all the will and resources at its disposal to create a safe environment for those who defend the right to territory and natural resources, promoting their valuable work, dismantling stereotypes and stigmatization and rejecting criminalization processes that harm and endanger their lives and work in favor of society.
“Defensoras de la Madre Tierra a dos años de asesinato de Berta Cáceres exigen avances en la investigación”, Criterio, 2 de marzo de 2018. Disponible en: https://criterio.hn/2018/03/02/defensoras-la-madre-tierra-dos-anos-asesinato-berta-caceres-exigen-avances-la-investigacion/
Global Witness/The Guardian. Almost four environmental defenders a week killed in 2017. 2 de febrero de 2018 Disponible en: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/blog/nueva-informaci%C3%B3n-revela-que-197-personas-defensoras-de-la-tierra-y-el-medio-ambiente-han-sido-asesinadas-en-2017/
FrontLineDefenders. Informe Anual sobre defensores/as de derechos humanos en riesgo 2017. 22 de enero de 2018.
CIDH. Criminalización de defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos (OEA/Ser.L/V/II. Doc. 49/15). 31 de diciembre de 2015.
Para más información:
El caso por el homicidio de Berta Cáceres suma un detenido más; activistas acusan que no es suficiente, The New York Times, 5 de marzo de 2018
Para más información de SIPAZ:
Justicia para Berta Cáceres y Nelson Noé García. Protección para Gustavo Castro Soto (29 de marzo de 2016)