UN Calls For Probe Into Murder Of Honduran Environmentalists

    UN Calls For Probe Into Murder Of Honduran Environmentalists
    Last updated Jan 12, 2023
    Image credit: Guapinol Community [via The Guardian]


    • UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor tweeted on Wednesday that an independent investigation must be carried out into the killings of two Honduran environmentalists on Saturday in Guapinol, Honduras.[1]
    • This comes amid speculation from Lawlor that the two victims, Aly Domínguez and Jairo Bonilla, could have been attacked in retaliation for countering the operation of an open-pit mine in a forest reserve that allegedly pollutes water supplies.[2]
    • The two environmentalists were shot dead on Saturday afternoon on their way home on a motorcycle after collecting payments for a cable company, with local police and prosecutors claiming it was a botched mugging, although nothing was reportedly taken from the victims.[3]
    • Guapinol Resiste, the environmentalist group Domínguez and Bonilla belonged to, rejected the police’s explanation of the murder, demanding justice for them on claims that the attack wasn't a robbery.[1]
    • Community leader and Domínguez's brother, Rey Domínguez, pointed out that the two deceased were founders of the struggle against one of the country's most powerful couples, arguing that they had been threatened, criminalized, and imprisoned over the past five years.[3]
    • In March 2016, Indigenous leader and environmentalist Berta Cáceres was murdered by six hired killers. Later, two executives of a company promoting the construction of a hydroelectric dam in western Honduras, against which Cáceres was fighting, were convicted.[4]


    Narrative A

    Rights and land defenders have long faced constant threats and harassment in Honduras, with authorities unable to guarantee their physical integrity. While the details of this crime have yet to be fully verified, Domínguez and Bonilla's murders seem to be linked to their opposition to powerful interests operating the iron ore mine. It's time for an in-depth, independent investigation to clarify the facts of this tragic incident and for the government to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

    Narrative B

    These types of killings aren't restricted to Honduras' border but rather are a growing pattern of violence that affects environmentalists worldwide. While government action against the perpetrators of such crimes is certainly required, they first need to start by looking within: By turning a blind eye — as too often happens — governments aren't just witnesses to these horrific murders but rather are fully complicit. This goes beyond homicide in some cases, edging dangerously close to the territory of assassination and state-sanctioned violence.

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