Honduras: Brutal murder of indigenous leader was a tragedy waiting to happen

The brutal killing of an outspoken indigenous leader in Honduras highlights the dangers faced by human rights activists in the country, said Amnesty International today.

Berta Cáceres, leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), was shot dead in her home early yesterday morning in the town of La Esperanza, in the province of Intibucá, west Honduras.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“The cowardly killing of Berta was a tragedy waiting to happen. For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities.

“Unless the authorities in Honduras take decisive action to find those responsible for this heinous crime and take measures to protect other activists like Berta, they will have blood on their hands. The government must bring those responsible for this crime to justice, and guarantee protection for her family and all members of COPINH.

“Berta’s death will have a devastating impact for many human rights activists and organisations, such as Amnesty International, who have worked with her to ensure the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in the Americas are protected.”

COPINH had recently been protesting the construction of the Agua Zarca dam in the community of Río Blanco. 

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