Washington D.C., April 7, 2016.- Bertha Zúniga Cáceres and members of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPINH), Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), met with Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro yesterday to voice their concerns and requirements with regards to the case of murdered indigenous Lenca leader Berta Caceres. Immediately after, a meeting was held at the behest of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in which authorities of the State of Honduras participated.
In both meetings, petitioners reiterated that the family and members of the COPINH want an independent and interdisciplinary group of experts to go to Honduras as soon as possible to investigate the case. Moreover, they explained that the IACHR is the only body with the experience and competence in accounting for human rights violations and therefore, the only body that could support technical and investigative efforts. In addition, the delegation underscored that this sort of work could not be delegated to the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (known by its acronym in Spanish as MACCIH), as this entity was created to attack networks of corruption and lacks the capacity to fully investigate the case.
Furthermore, the Secretary General of the OAS received a document yesterday which outlined the family’s and COPINH’s requests. Soon after, however, Luis Almagro tweeted a photo of himself with the delegation, announcing that "the MACCIH will investigate sources of political /economic corruption in the crime", thus ignoring the expressed wishes of the group. You can read the original letter (with the signature of the Secretary General) here (in Spanish).
“This morning we made our desire very clear that we do not want the MACCIH to investigate my mother’s murder, but somehow the opposite has been understood. This concerns me because it creates confusion within a community that is waiting to hear what will happen with regards to this case," said Bertha Caceres Zuniga upon hearing the news.
The family and COPINH also expressed their disagreement with how the State is handling the investigation by not allowing them to be actively involved in investigations, to such an extent that they can only get updates about the case through public statements.
We regret the position taken by Honduras as well as the Secretary General, and we hope that the wishes of the victims are respected.