Assailants broke into Berta Cáceres’s home on March 2 and shot her, killing the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize winner. Cáceres helped lead fights against dam projects in environmentally sensitive areas of her home country, where she was also the founder and general secretary of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras.
Cáceres’ killers have yet to be caught. In their Thursday letter to Kerry, the groups urged the Obama administration to support an investigation into her death and press Honduran officials to act more aggressively in protecting activists like Cáceres.
“We ask that the State Department make clear to the Honduran government that future partnership and funding depends on demonstrating the political will to investigate and prosecute this crime and all crimes against human rights defenders,” the letter said.
“The Honduran government must make the mechanism for protection of human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and justice operators fully operational and adequately funded, with protection measures consulted with beneficiaries.”
The groups asked Kerry to support an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights inquiry into the murder and to pressure Honduran officials to conduct their own investigation.
After Cáceres’ murder last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said lawmakers should push Honduras to both investigate the killing and do more to protect political activists.
“What steps will the government take to protect the many other Hondurans who have been deemed in need of protection, and to stand up for the rights of people like Berta who risk their lives in peacefully defending the environment and their livelihoods?” he said in a statement.
“The answers to those questions will weigh heavily on the Congress’s support for future assistance for that government.”