Berta’s murderers sentenced to long prison terms

Berta Cáceres was brutally murdered in her home on March 3, 2016. Photo: Erik Halkjaer

The seven men who were previously found guilty of the murder of the environmentalist and indigenous activist Berta Cáceres have now been sentenced to long prison terms.

Berta Cáceres was one of the most known and internationally awarded leaders in Indigenous rights, environmental issues and human rights in Honduras. As founder and coordinator of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (Copinh) – one of We Effect’s partner organizations in the country – Berta Cáceres defended the rights and territory of the Lenca people. Her fight was against energy projects such as dam construction and mines. After several murder threats and a long going persecution from her opponents, Berta was brutally murdered in her home on March 3, 2016.

In November 2018, after a well-publicized trial, seven men were found guilty of the murder. On December 2 this year, the sentence was announced for all convicted.

The four men identified as the hitmen were sentenced to 34 years in prison each. Two men, who had links to the company that built the dam Berta Cáceres opposed, were sentenced to 30 years in prison for helping to organize the murder. A former Honduran army major was also sentenced to 30 years.

– It is good that the executors are sentenced, but as long as those who have ordered the murder go free, there is still a green light for threats and the persecution of environmentalists and human rights defenders. Justice is about judging the perpetrators, but also about protecting those who are struggling to defend human rights and the environment, says Anna Tibblin, secretary general of We Effect.

Berta Cáceres family and Copinh continue to fight for justice. In a statement after the verdict, they write:
“The impunity does not end with the verdict against those who committed the murder. There is sufficient evidence to prosecute and punish the brains behind the murder of Berta Cáceres”