URGENT ACTION: Ref: Berta Cáceres Flores, some will be jailed, but there will be no justice.
On 2 March 2016, several unknown people broke into Berta Cáceres Flores’ house in La Esperanza, Intibucá and murdered her. Gustavo Castro Soto a Mexican human rights defender was also hurt in this crime.
Over the course of this trial, we have observed the many irregularities and violations of due process which have occurred to date as this trial proceeded. At the investigation stage, the family’s legal representative constantly met with obstacles when trying to see the evidence gathered by the Attorney General; for example, on more that thirty five occasions they made explicit requests but received no reply.
Later on in August of this year, more than 2 years after the break-ins, the Attorney General let it be known that most of the evidence seized had not been analysed. This evidence included electronic equipment such as computers, cell phones and even the weapon belonging to one of the accused. Moreover, the Court issued four rulings ordering this evidence be handed over, but all were ignored.
In the disclosure hearing, the Court rejected two requests to have the proceedings digitally broadcast, videoed and recorded which had been proposed to ensure publicity for the trial. It also systematically denied the admission of basic evidence which showed the culpability of managers and employees of Dessarrollos Energeticos S.A. (DESA) , which is widely considered to be behind the murder.
The most egregious way in which the Court showed its bias was when it denied the victims and their families the right to private legal representation in the trial, refusing them the opportunity to take part in the trial and forcing them to accept lawyers from the Attorney General’s office which, as was stated above, had placed obstacles in their way and had hidden information from them.
The Court has taken this illegal decision because, given that conditions for an irregular and arbitrary trial were being prepared, several appeals had been filed, including one for recusal, which was denied; this then led to a series of appeals for constitutional protection being made. So far, these have not been dealt with and the appeal on the grounds of unconstitutionality is still active. These legal measures indicate that this trial was illegally convened, which is why the lawyers for the victims did not appear at the hearing, having previous informed the Court of all their reasons.
We consider that those guilty of this murder must be duly tried and punished, however, justice will not be done and the truth about this murder will not be revealed until it is possible to dismantle the criminal structure behind it.
By virtue of having signed various international instruments and by virtue of its own national legislation, it is incumbent on the Honduran State to guarantee full representation in judicial proceedings for the victim’s family and for COPINH and to guarantee a thorough, independent investigation that follows due process so that the actual perpetrators and masterminds behind all the deeds and circumstances connected to Berta Cáceres murder may be identified, judged and punished.