GENEVA (4 March 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, today strongly condemned the murder in Honduras of human rights defender Berta Cáceres, founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations Honduras (COPINH) and leader of the Lenca community of Río Blanco.The murder of Ms. Cáceres took place earlier this week despite precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for her protection after an increase in the number of death threats she had received for years because of her work denouncing violations of human rights against indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur met Ms. Cáceres during her first official visit* to Honduras in November 2015, when the indigenous leader facilitated meetings with the Lenca community. At Río Blanco, the UN expert received information about the community's opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam which had led to killings, harassment and threats to members of the community.
"It is very likely that this killing is linked to her work in defense of human rights of the indigenous Lenca people," Ms. Tauli-Corpuz said, recalling that Ms. Cáceres had received the Goldman Prize in 2015 as an environmental activist in recognition of her work against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam.
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