Honduras: Expert Mission to Observe Trial for Murder of Berta Cáceres
April 6, 2021
In light of the upcoming trial of the Berta Cáceres Case, the Expert Observation Mission calls on the State of Honduras to guarantee the application of international standards and national norms that lead to truth, comprehensive justice and reparations in a case of global interest.
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was assassinated on March 2, 2016. In addition to the defense of territory, she worked to assert the cultural rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as women's rights. As a result of her struggle and advocacy work, Berta Cáceres was the victim of numerous threats and campaigns of stigmatization, harassment and criminalization, which led the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to grant her precautionary measures during the seven years prior to her murder. Finally, Berta Cáceres was the victim of femicide for her human rights advocacy work and a Sentencing Court found 7 people guilty in 2018 for her murder. Today, the trial is scheduled to begin against Roberto David Castillo Mejía, a former employee of the National Electric Energy Company and former military intelligence officer who was serving as General Manager of DESA at the time of the murder of the prominent Lenca leader.
The murder of Berta Cáceres is part of an alarming pattern of violence faced by human rights defenders in Honduras. To address this situation, recommendation 104.81 issued before the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) expressly urges the State of Honduras to, "ensure the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators of the alleged human rights violations that occurred during the 2009 coup d'état and of the intellectual and financial authors of the murder of human rights defender Berta Cáceres."
At a decisive moment for access to justice in this case, the State must ensure that the scope of the trial is not limited so that the truth behind her murder can be exposed and steps towards restorative justice are taken in her case. On numerous occasions the IACHR has identified the situation of structural impunity in Honduras; the Observation Mission is a timely effort to monitor whether the judicial process complies with international standards in this area.
The Observation Mission is comprised of nineteen international and national civil and human rights organizations and human rights defenders that observe the respect for due process guarantees, effective judicial protection and the right of access to justice for the victims of the murder of human rights defender Berta Cáceres. It has observed the entire case against Roberto David Castillo Mejía for the murder of Berta Cáceres and will observe the trial in its entirety, publishing daily reports on its website and social media networks.
Expert Observation Mission
Centro de Asistencia Legal a Pueblos Indígenas (CALPI), Nicaragua
Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH), Guatemala
Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH), Honduras
Comisión Internacional de Juristas, Regional
Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (Cajar), Colombia
Estudio Arbizu & Gamarra SAC, Perú
Equipo Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos, Honduras
Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación (ERIC-sj), Honduras
FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Fundación abogacía española, España
Fundación para el debido proceso (DPLF), Estados Unidos
Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC-USA), Estados Unidos
Impunity Watch, Guatemala
National Lawyers Guild, International Committee, Estados Unidos
Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad,
Protección International, Mesoamérica
Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA-Estados Unidos
Observatorio Internacional de la abogacía en riesgo, Europa
OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
 United Nations General Assembly. Human Rights Council 46th session: Universal Periodic Review: Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Honduras, Released 16 December 2020. A/HRC/46/12. Available at: https://www.ohchr.org/SP/HRBod...