Jeannette Kawas was a Honduran environmental activist assassinated in 1995 due to her work to stop illegal deforestation and to protect the state of the environment in the Tela bay region, on the Caribbean coast of Honduras.
Her death was the first in a series of acts of aggression, threats and executions against Honduran environmentalists.
She created and, until her death, presided over the Foundation for the Protection of Lancetilla, Punta Sal, Punta Izopo and Texiguat (PROLANSATE). From that position, she denounced the intentions of people and businesses for their involvement in illegal activity in Punta Sal, the contamination of the lagoons and the deforestation of the forests in the region.
Under her leadership, PROLANSANTE advocated to the National Congress that Punta Sal be considered a National Park, denounced the illegal exploitation of the trees and the damaging of diverse protected zones; she also opposed the business projects that threatened the environment.
Days before she was assassinated, Jeannette organized a march in the city of Tela to protest the initiative of the government to grant property deeds in the Punta Sol National Park.
In the night of February 6, 1995, two armed men approached her at her home and shot her. No one has been arrested for the crime.
In 2003, CEJIL and the Reflection, Investigation and Communication team from the Jesus Company in Honduras (ERIC) brought the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In April of 2009, the Inter-American Human Rights Court condemned Honduras for violating the human rights of Jeannette Kawas.
The court concluded that the assassination of Mrs. Kawas occurred in a context of aggression and threats against people that defend the environment, and was a consequence of their job to protect the environment, which was interfering with strong economic interests. The sentence determined that the crime “was facilitated by the intervention of persons that acted under the direction of state agents.”
The decision of the Court ordered that the government clear up the circumstances around the death of the environmental activist, compensate the families, implement a national campaign that recognizes the importance of the work performed by people who defend the environment, and to construct a monument in memory of her in the Punta Sol National Park.