UN Women strongly condemns the murder of human rights defender and Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres

Date: 04 March 2016

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women, strongly condemns the murder on 3 March of indigenous leader, environmentalist and defender of human rights, Berta Cáceres, who was shot in her home in the city of La Esperanza in western Honduras.

Ms Cáceres was known as a feminist activist and for her staunch defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, and notably her stance against environmentally damaging hydroelectric construction projects on land sacred to the Lenca people in western Honduras, which had provoked previous threats of violence against her.

Her murder is a serious crime that directly contravenes both national law that protects individual citizens, and the provisions of United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/181 of 2013 that specifically addresses the protection of women human rights defenders. The resolution recognizes the important role played by women of all ages in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It indicates the many types of risk, discrimination and violence faced by women defenders of human rights and calls upon States to take all measures necessary to ensure their protection, and create a safe and enabling environment for the defence of human rights.

We recall the statement made in September last year by His Excellency Juan Hernandez Alvarado, President of the Republic of Honduras at the United Nations, during the Global Leaders’ meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, in which he noted the “significant increase in women’s violent deaths” in Honduras and his strong belief that the issue of femicides should be prioritized in renewed efforts to promote and achieve gender equality.

UN Women encourages the Honduran authorities to follow the President’s statement, and the clear direction of the United Nations resolution for “appropriate, robust and practical steps”.

We call for urgent and diligent investigation of the Berta Cáceres murder and an end to impunity, so that the masterminds and perpetrators of violence against the defenders of human rights can be promptly brought to justice.

In recognizing her death and her work, we pay tribute to the many other women who have been murdered in Honduras and across the world for their work to build peace, justice and equality.

We convey condolences and solidarity with the relatives of Berta Cáceres, and renew our commitment to cooperate with all institutions and authorities to continue to strengthen existing policies and institutions for the protection of human rights defenders in Honduras and to implement policies and comprehensive and sustainable public programmes to support and protect them.