WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on the killing of Berta Caceres, General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Peoples of Honduras (COPIHN), in her home in Honduras:
“The brazen murder of environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Caceres is a shocking reminder of the challenges facing Honduran human rights defenders,” said Cardin. “Ms. Caceres was a tireless champion for Honduras’ indigenous peoples and outspoken advocate for environmental stewardship. I extend my deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues, and I mourn the loss of a passionate voice for social justice in Honduras.
“President Hernandez and Attorney General Chinchilla must take all necessary steps to investigate Ms. Caceres’ murder and ensure that the perpetrators of this horrendous crime swiftly be brought to justice. Ms. Caceres’ death cannot end in impunity, and international support for a comprehensive investigation is imperative. I urge President Hernandez to accept the assistance offered by U.S. Ambassador to Honduras James Nealon.
“The fact that Ms. Caceres received numerous death threats prior to her death, speaks of the urgent and profound need to provide greater protections to human rights defenders in Honduras. As the United States expands its engagement in Central America – an effort which I support – the Department of State and USAID must place greater priority on efforts to protect human rights and strengthen the rule of law.”