PBI-Canada calls on Canadian Foreign Minister to read civil society letter to his Spanish counterpart about COPINH

Published by Brent Patterson on

Peace Brigades International-Spanish State signed this joint letter to the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation on the fifth anniversary of the murder of Indigenous Lenca defender Berta Caceres in Honduras.

Other signatories to the letter include Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Front Line Defenders and Global Witness.

The trial of one of the alleged intellectual authors of the murder of Caceres is now scheduled to begin in Tegucigalpa on April 6 and run for four weeks.

The letter calls on the Minister “to urge the Honduran authorities to comply with due process, further ensuring transparency and public access to the judicial process, including the presence of journalists and observers.”

The letter also notes: “The aggressions reported by the Indigenous Lenca community have increased in recent years. Between 2017 and 2020 COPINH has filed nearly 35 complaints with the prosecution about these facts without legal action being taken against the alleged assailants.”

It then asks the Minister to “publicly acknowledge COPINH’s legitimate work and the importance of its struggle to achieve justice and attain truth” and “to urge the Honduran authorities [to investigate the attacks] in a timely, thorough, and impartial manner so that their perpetrators, both material and intellectual, are brought to justice.”

These requests would be consistent with Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders.

On the anniversary of Caceres’ death, Mary Lawlor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, also wrote:

“This week I will again remind the UN that their members are failing in their moral and legal obligations to prevent the killings of human rights defenders. It is no use for government officials to wring their hands and agree that the murder of Cáceres and other defenders is a terrible problem and that someone should do something about it.”

The day after Caceres was killed, the Canadian Embassy stated: “Canada strongly condemns this cowardly crime and urges the Honduran authorities to investigate the facts and to bring the perpetrators to justice in the shortest possible time, so that this crime does not go unpunished. Likewise, it urges the Government of Honduras to ensure the protection of other activists and human rights defenders who have been threatened.”

We encourage Canadian Foreign Minister Marc Garneau to read the letter to his Spanish counterpart and the full commentary by Mary Lawlor and to take further steps to ensure justice for Berta and protection for all human rights defenders.

PBI-Honduras has accompanied COPINH since May 2016.

The letter to Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya can be read here and was signed by the following organizations:

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