Koenders and Ploumen send envoy to Honduras

Foreign minister Bert Koenders and trade and development minister Lilianne Ploumen are sending the Dutch ambassador in Costa Rica to Honduras to express concern over the killing of human rights activist Berta Cáceres. It was revealed last Thursday that Ms Cáceres, who defended the rights of Honduras’s indigenous communities, had been murdered in her home.

Mr Koenders and Ms Ploumen have called on the Honduran authorities to track down the killers and bring them to justice. The Dutch ambassador will also urge the Honduran authorities to create a climate where human rights are respected and human rights defenders like Ms Cáceres and journalists can do their work safely.

‘Courageous people like Ms Cáceres must be allowed to work without intimidation or threats,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘By sending the Dutch ambassador, we are sending a clear message that the international community is watching. We will continue to defend Ms Cáceres’s legacy and the vital struggle that she conducted with such conviction. Her killers must not be allowed to get away with this crime.’

Ms Ploumen noted that the murder of Ms Cáceres is not an isolated incident. ‘This is a terrible tragedy for the people who knew and loved Berta Cáceres,’ said the minister. ‘At the same time, it makes painfully clear how much work remains for people like her. This kind of violence will only end when the rights of vulnerable groups are protected and respected.’ 

This Tuesday Ms Ploumen is hosting the second high-level Land Governance Multi-stakeholder Dialogue, where companies, civil society organisations, knowledge institutions and government will discuss the initial results of this unique partnership. Participants will agree ways to better safeguard the rights of indigenous communities, women and other vulnerable groups to own and cultivate their land.

The Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), founded by Berta Cáceres, is a local partner of two of the foreign ministry’s strategic partners: the Central American Women’s Fund (FCAM) and the NGO Both ENDS. The ministry is in close contact with the two organisations about the murder.