Honduras: International mission will observe "Fraude sobre el Gualcarque" case

25/07/2022
Press release
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Orlando Sierra / AFP

25 July 2022 - The oral hearings begin today in the corruption trial in the concession of the Gualcarque River, in Honduras. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and other organisations that make up the Qualified Observation Mission in the Berta Cáceres case in Honduras will follow the oral hearings.

The Observation Mission hopes and calls for a transparent and public process in the trial of the "Fraud in the Gualcarque" case. This trial seeks accountability for those involved in the network of corruption that allowed for fraudulent concessions of the Gaulcarque River. These concessions are still in force in the territories of the Lenca community, violating their rights to land and water. The complaint is linked to the 2016 murder of renowned environmental and human rights defender Berta Cáceres.

This trial is also emblematic because it is the first time in the country that Indigenous communities — direct victims of these criminal acts — have become parties to a corruption case for violation of their human rights. The Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations (COPINH) appealed to be included as victims in the process while some organisations of this Mission, including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CIPRODEH), the Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH), and Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR), sent letters of support (amicus curiae). This led the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras to grant COPINH, and later the Indigenous Council of Rio Blanco, the right to be considered parties to the trial and exercise their rights therein.

The trial of six people for the crimes of fraud, abuse of authority, falsification of public documents, and use of false documents in the concession of the Agua Zarca Project begins 25 July 2022. Among them are former public officials and the former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA), David Castillo, who was recently sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison as co-author of the murder of Berta Cáceres.

The Observation Mission also calls on the national and international community, in particular the diplomatic missions in Tegucigalpa, to closely observe and follow this trial given its importance for human rights jurisprudence, the rights of Indigenous peoples, and the fight against corruption.

The Observation Mission was formed in September 2018 to observe the first trial regarding the murder of Berta Cáceres, a representative of COPINH and defender of human rights, land, and the environment. Since then, the Mission has observed and expressed its opinion on two trials. The Mission will continue to demand justice for all acts and actors responsible for her assassination.

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  • Co-signatories

    Centro de Asistencia Legal a Pueblos Indígenas - CALPI, Nicaragua
    Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos - CALDH, Guatemala
    Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos - CIPRODEH, Honduras
    Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo - CAJAR, Colombia
    Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación - ERIC-sj, Honduras
    Guatemala Human Rights Commission - GHRC-USA, United States
    International Federation for Human Rights - FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, international
    National Lawyer’s Guild, International Committee, United States
    Plataforma Internacional Contra la Impunidad, international
    Promise Institute for Human Rights, UCLA Law, United States
    Protection International, Central America
    Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR), United States
    World Organisation Against Torture - OMCT, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, international

  • Member organisations - Honduras
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    Honduras
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    Honduras

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