Oxfam International Blogs - indigenous peoples rights http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/indigenous-peoples-rights en Has justice been served for Berta Cáceres? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-12-17-has-justice-been-served-berta-caceres <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>The recent convictions of seven men in Honduras for the 2016 murder of Berta Cáceres is testament to the powerful call for justice that has reverberated around the world: from Berta’s family, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (<a href="https://copinh.org/en/" rel="nofollow">COPINH</a>), fellow activists and Honduran social movements. Yet, as Vicki Gass explores, this is only a partial victory and the fight for justice continues.</strong></p> <p>On November 29, 2018 a Honduran criminal court <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/29/berta-caceres-seven-men-convicted-conspiracy-murder-honduras" rel="nofollow">convicted seven men</a> for the murder of renowned indigenous Lenca leader and human rights defender Berta Cáceres. Ms. Cáceres was shot three times by gunmen in March 2016 in the community of La Esperanza, for leading the opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project threatening their water resources.</p> <p><strong>A litmus test for Honduran justice</strong></p> <p>In a country where corruption and impunity reign, the trial has become a litmus test as to whether justice could be served in Honduras, especially for such a high-profile case.</p> <p>Significantly, seven of the eight defendants - Sergio Ramón Rodríguez (communities and environmental manager for DESA), Douglas Geovanny Bustillo (former DESA security chief and ex-US trained army lieutenant), Mariano Díaz Chávez (US-trained special forces major who served with Bustillo), Henry Javier Hernández (former special forces sergeant who served with Díaz), Elvin Rápalo, Edilson Duarte and Oscar Torres – were convicted for her murder last week.</p> <p>Four of the seven were also convicted for the attempted murder of Gustavo Castro from Mexico who was visiting Ms. Cáceres at the time of her death.</p> <p>An eighth defendant, Emerson Duarte, was acquitted of all responsibility.</p> <p><img alt=" Goldman Environmental Prize" title=" Goldman Environmental Prize" height="340" width="680" data-delta="1" typeof="Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/2015-bertacaceres-goldman-environmental-prize-680x340.jpg" /></p> <p><em>Berta Cáceres. Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize</em></p> <p>Two other points are also critically important in the court findings. First of all, the court judges recognized that a high-level executive of the hydro-electric company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. (DESA) had coordinated with the hitmen convicted of her murder. Secondly, that Ms. Cáceres´ murder was planned and carried out with “knowledge and consent” of DESA executives in retaliation for her leadership in defense of indigenous territories, especially the Gualcarque River where the Agua Zaca project is located.</p> <p>For Oxfam, these are significant advances.</p> <p><strong>But was justice really served?</strong></p> <p>Many would say almost but not quite.</p> <p>Ms. Cáceres’ family, COPINH, non-governmental organizations, the media, elected officials, and indigenous and human rights defenders across the globe who have been monitoring the trial are pretty much in agreement that while the court ruling reflects progress, this verdict is only the first step. Still at liberty are the masterminds behind her killing, the people who paid the assassins to pull the trigger. It is only when the intellectual authors are brought to justice and convicted that full justice will have been achieved.</p> <p>Secondly, even though <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/world/americas/honduras-bertha-caceres.html" rel="nofollow">this verdict</a> -- this partial justice -- was achieved, the entire process revealed that the investigatory capabilities of the Public Prosecutor’s office and the judicial system are still very weak despite millions of dollars of US and European foreign assistance to the Honduran government intended to strengthen these institutions.</p> <p>Evidence was left unanalyzed by the Public Prosecutor´s office and the court proceedings were erratic with allegations of negligence and lack of transparency by Ms. Cáceres’ family, COPINH, national and international observers. The Public Prosecutor´s office failed to guarantee full access to the case file and the evidence to the victims (in this case, her family, COPINH and Gustavo Castro) as required by Honduran law.</p> <p>Furthermore, the Court took the arbitrary decision to exclude from trial proceedings the private prosecutors acting on behalf of the family and COPINH. That a verdict was reached at all was seen by many as a miracle.</p> <p><strong>Nevertheless there are still steps to be taken in order to obtain full justice in this case.</strong></p> <p>In February 2019, the trial against Roberto David Castillo, the Executive President of DESA, will begin. He has been charged by the Public Prosecutor’s office of being at least one of the intellectual authors of Ms. Cáceres´ murder. We must continue to be vigilant and make sure that the Honduran courts act according to the law.</p> <p>Secondly, with the conviction of Sergio Rodríguez, DESA´s communities and environmental manager, and the charges against Executive President David Castillo, there is a solid foundation to advocate for the definitive cancellation of the concession granted to DESA for the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. Olivia Zúniga, Ms. Cáceres’ eldest daughter and recently elected legislator, introduced a bill to the National Congress on the second anniversary of her death that would cancel the concession. This is still on the waiting list for debate and approval.</p> <p><strong>Since 2016, Berta Cáceres’ death has galvanized a worldwide movement</strong> in the fight for justice and against impunity for the killings and threats against land and water rights defenders.</p> <p>The recent court findings are a testament to the ongoing vigilance, tenacity and courage of <a href="https://medium.com/@Oxfam/what-i-learned-during-my-visit-to-la-esperanza-honduras-a397a637a6e9" rel="nofollow">Ms. Cáceres’ family</a>, COPINH and social movements in Honduras, but their mission is not yet complete.</p> <p>Justice for Ms. Cáceres’ death requires that the intellectual authors of her murder are tried and sentenced.</p> <p>Justice for Ms. Cáceres’ life requires that the places that she and so many others love and care for are protected and kept safe, so that they can continue to nourish the spirit of the Lenca for generations to come.</p> <p><em>The entry posted on 17 December 2018, by Vicki Gass, Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam America.</em></p> <p><em>Photo: Berta Cáceres' daughter, Berta Zúñiga Cáceres, at a vigil for her mother. Credit: Keith Lane</em></p> <p><strong>Read more</strong></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/berta"><strong>Blogs about Berta's fight for justice</strong></a></li> <li><a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/tags/berta-caceres" rel="nofollow"><strong>More background on the Berta Cáceres case</strong></a></li> </ul> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Has justice been served for Berta Cáceres?</h2></div> Mon, 17 Dec 2018 16:58:52 +0000 Guest Blogger 81813 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/18-12-17-has-justice-been-served-berta-caceres#comments A win for Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Indigenous leaders halt protests after Peru agrees to meet their demands http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-11-17-win-free-prior-informed-consent-indigenous-leaders-halt-protests-after-peru <div class="field field-name-body"><p>The Peruvian government’s agreement with indigenous leaders in oil block 192 offers a ray of hope for indigenous organizations fighting to have a say in projects that affect them, but major gaps remain in consultation processes across Latin America.</p> <p><em>“We will not allow resources to be extracted from our territories if the government does not guarantee us a prior consultation process which incorporates social and environmental protections for our lands and safety for our sons and daughters…”    – Achuar leader, September 2017</em></p> <p> </p><h3>Guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ right to prior consultation</h3> <p><strong>Just a few weeks ago the situation looked quite bleak</strong> for indigenous leaders of oil block 192, Peru’s largest oil field located in the northern Amazon. The Peruvian government <a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2011/09/peru-congress-passes-precedent-setting-consultation-law/">passed a law</a> in 2011 guaranteeing indigenous peoples’ right to prior consultation for projects that affect them. However, when it came time to prepare for a new 30-year contract for block 192, the government began looking for ways to avert their responsibilities under the new law. The government claimed that it had already consulted communities in 2015, but the process could hardly be considered fair and representative since the agreements reached failed to include 80 percent of communities in the block.</p> <p>With Canadian oil company Frontera’s contract set to expire in 2019, indigenous federations of the Achuar, Kichwa, Quechua, and Urarinas peoples saw an opening to right that past wrong and demanded new consultations.</p> <p><strong>They had good cause to be fed up</strong> with the way the project had been managed to date. Indigenous communities had suffered close to half a century of <a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2016/05/deja-vu-in-peru-the-un-sounds-the-alarm-again-on-extreme-pollution-in-peru/">environmental and health impacts</a> in the block which had yet to be remediated adequately.</p> <p>In recent years the government declared four environmental and one health emergency in the block; created two multi-sectoral commissions to address the environmental, health, and land titling needs of communities; and reached a series of agreements in 2015 which led to the ill-fated first attempt at consultation. Yet not much had changed for communities on the ground.</p> <p> </p><h3>Peaceful protest</h3> <p>When the indigenous federations learned the government would not provide a new opportunity for consultation, they opted for peaceful protest. They took control of the oil installations on their lands and launched a national-level campaign in defense of their right to prior consultation.</p> <p>On October 31, the government agreed to implement a prior consultation process in line with Peruvian law for any new contract for the block. The agreement requires the government to have a dialogue with communities around social and environmental issues, and to ensure that their concerns inform the contract.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr" xml:lang="en">We did it! After months of campaigning, the Peruvian govt will respect the rights of indigenous communities in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lote192?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lote192</a>. Thank you for your support! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/IndigenousRightsNow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#IndigenousRightsNow</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PriorConsent?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PriorConsent</a> <a href="https://t.co/qAI7BNj4RD">pic.twitter.com/qAI7BNj4RD</a></p> <p>— Oxfam America (@OxfamAmerica) <a href="https://twitter.com/OxfamAmerica/status/933019765651705857?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 21, 2017</a></p></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p><strong>This agreement is encouraging, but unfortunately it came at the cost of weeks of protest</strong> by indigenous federations. Elsewhere in Peru and across the Latin America region many consultation processes have fallen far short of international standards.</p> <p> </p><h3>How governments can uphold Free, Prior and Informed Consent</h3> <p>In fact, this week in Mexico City several <a href="http://foroconsulta.net/">indigenous and human rights organizations met</a> to share their stories related to prior consultation and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Twenty-nine organizations, including <a href="http://oxfammexico.org/">Oxfam Mexico</a>, <a href="http://www.foroconsulta.net/">signed a declaration</a> which highlights their frustrations to date. The declaration reminds governments that:</p> <ol><li><strong>They have a duty to respect indigenous peoples’ right</strong> to prior consultation and FPIC even when they have not yet adopted national laws to regulate these processes.</li> <li><strong>The adoption of consultation laws</strong> will not achieve intended goals unless governments ensure the effective protection of indigenous peoples’ rights and refrain from weakening environmental protections.</li> <li><strong>Recognition of traditional indigenous territories</strong> and appropriate land demarcation and titling are essential to provide legal security to communities.</li> <li><strong>International treaties, declarations, and jurisprudence provide minimum standards</strong> with regard to several aspects of these rights, and national laws must comply with these standards.</li> <li><strong>International law requires governments</strong> not only to consult indigenous peoples, but also ensure their consent in certain instances.</li> </ol><p>It remains to be seen whether the latest agreement in block 192 will turn the tide for project-affected communities. Oxfam has worked closely with indigenous partners on prior consultation and FPIC in Latin America and globally for more than 15 years, including around <a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2014/01/a-new-threat-to-perus-indigenous-peoples-consultation-law/">Peru’s consultation law</a>.</p> <p> </p><h3>A ray of hope for FPIC</h3> <p>While we have seen some significant policy gains, much more needs to be done in terms of effective implementation. Monitoring FPIC in practice is a focal point of our global <a href="https://policy-practice.oxfamamerica.org/publications/achieving-natural-resource-justice/">extractive industries strategy</a>.</p> <p>The block 192 agreement offers both a ray of hope and a cautionary tale for other governments.</p> <p>Hopefully governments can learn from this tale, embracing consultation and FPIC early on and prior to initiating project activities. Kudos to indigenous organizations in block 192 for their successful campaign.</p> <p><em>This entry posted by Emily Greenspan, Senior Policy Advisor with Oxfam’s Extractive Industries team, on 17 November 2017. Originally published by <a href="https://politicsofpoverty.oxfamamerica.org/2017/11/indigenous-leaders-halt-protests-after-peru-agrees-to-meet-their-demands/">Oxfam America</a>.<br /></em></p> <p><em>Image at top: Oxfam campaign graphic telling Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski that prior consultation is not an option, but a human right. Credit: <a href="http://peru.oxfam.org/">Oxfam Peru</a></em></p> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>A win for Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Indigenous leaders halt protests after Peru agrees to meet their demands</h2></div> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:42:06 +0000 Emily Greenspan 81300 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-11-17-win-free-prior-informed-consent-indigenous-leaders-halt-protests-after-peru#comments