Charge against Dutch FMO for complicity in human rights violations in Honduras
Today, three representatives of the Honduran indigenous people's organisation COPINH, together with the family of environmental activist Berta Cáceres, who was murdered in March 2016, announced that they are preparing to press charges against the Dutch development bank FMO. COPINH accuses the FMO of complicity in human rights violations in connection with the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.
The charge states that, by providing its Honduran client with financial support, the FMO helped maintain the political climate of repression and impunity. COPINH hopes that taking the FMO to court will encourage the bank – and other development banks – to ensure that, in the future, human rights violations do not occur in projects in which they are involved.
Impunity and repression in Honduras
A delegation arrived in the Netherlands this week to announce the complaint against the FMO. The delegation consists of COPINH coordinator Bertha Zuniga Cáceres, a community leader from Rio Blanco (where the Agua Zarca dam is being built) and daughter of Berta Cáceres, together with two Honduran lawyers. The COPINH delegates wish to take advantage of their visit to the Netherland to emphasise the continuing need for a fair and independent legal process surrounding the murder Berta Cáceres and to focus attention on the impunity and repression in Honduras.
Meeting with members of parliament and Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Both ENDS has been supporting COPINH for more than five years in its efforts to initiate and maintain a dialogue with the FMO and other relevant parties in the Netherlands, and is facilitating COPINH's current visit. The delegates will be meeting members of parliament and officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will also speak with representatives of Dutch civil society organisations that have been involved in developments around the Agua Zarca project from the beginning and, like Both ENDS, have closely monitored the situation surrounding the murder of Berta Cáceres.
There will be a short press conference today at 14:00 and, on Friday 18 May, the organisations involved have organised a public meeting at the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam.
Both ENDS continues to support COPINH's work and is helping to secure justice for those whose rights have been violated by the Agua Zarca project. We will also continue to remind development banks like the FMO of their responsibility to prevent human rights violations. They not only have to tighten up their investment policies, but also apply those rules in practice. Rule one should be that, before deciding to finance a project, banks must be able to guarantee that everyone involved, directly or indirectly, or who might be affected by the project in some way, is informed, consulted and listened to at a very early stage. If that does not happen, they should not agree to finance the project.
For more information
Read more about this subject
Indigenous Hondurans are resisting the construction of the Agua Zarca hydrodam. Their fight has cost several lives, including that of Berta Cáceres. After considerable public pressure, Dutch development bank FMO withdrew from the project.
Development banks should comply with strict environmental and human rights rules to ensure that their projects benefit and do not harm the poorest groups. Both ENDS monitors the banks to make sure they do.
News / 6 July 2017
Both ENDS and SOMO welcome the announcement done today by the Dutch and Finnish development banks, FMO and FinnFund, to exit the controversial Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras. Conflict about the project has led to violence in the region, including the murder of three leaders who opposed the project. In March 2016, renowned human rights defender Berta Caceres was murdered for opposing this project in indigenous Lenca territory.
External link / 31 May 2018
Sometimes things must go terribly wrong before big players start to move. In March 2016, Honduran activist Berta Cáceres was murdered because of her leading role in the protests against the Agua Zarca hydro dam, co-financed by the Dutch FMO. One and a half year later, FMO changed their policies to prevent such events in the future.
News / 7 February 2017
Last week, Global Witness published 'Honduras: the deadliest place to defend the planet'. This shocking report clearly shows the worrying situation of human rights in Honduras and backs the demand of Both ENDS and partner COPINH: FMO must divest from the Agua Zarca dam.
News / 6 March 2018
On Friday, March 2, the director of DESA, David Castillo, was arrested in Honduras on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Berta Cáceres, exactly 2 years ago. The Honduran government refused for a long time to not only detect the actual murderers, but also the intellectual authors of the murder of Cáceres.
News / 16 December 2019
Earlier this month, the seven men found guilty of the murder of Berta Cáceres were sentenced to jail for periods between 30 and 50 years. The court confirmed its opinion that Berta Cáceres was murdered for her role in defending the rights of the indigenous Lenca communities.
News / 10 July 2020
Dutch development bank FMO is considering investing in the controversial Ficohsa bank in Honduras. The bank has close ties with the elite in Honduras, which holds considerable power in politics, the (para)military and the business community. Last Wednesday, a number of Honduran organisations, including the indigenous organisation COPINH – whose leader Berta Cáceres was murdered in 2016 – sent a letter to the FMO management. The letter, signed by forty organisations including Both ENDS, calls on FMO not to do business with this bank.
News / 2 March 2017
Today, it is exactly one year ago that Berta Cáceres was brutally murdered in her home in Honduras. Cáceres was a globally known human rights defender and coordinator of the indigenous Lenca organisation COPINH. The murder of Berta is closely related to her protest against the Agua Zarca dam, a hydroelectric project financed partially by the Dutch development bank FMO.
News / 2 March 2021
Today it is 5 years ago that Berta Cáceres was shot in haar home in La Esperanza, Honduras, for defending the rights of indigenous people. The leader of indigenous organisation COPINH resisted the Agua-Zarca hydropower dam that was planned to be build in indigenous territory. The actual murderers have been convicted, but not so the intellectual authors of the murders.
News / 23 July 2021
The million-dollar loan that the Dutch development bank FMO provided to project developers of Honduran company DESA for the construction of the controversial Agua Zarca dam project in Honduras, may be related to gross corruption and malpractice. This is concluded in an article published today in the Dutch news paper Financieel Dagblad, based on information provided by COPINH, the indigenous organisation that has been opposing the construction of the dam for years. Several members of the organisation, including its leader Berta Cáceres, were murdered. DESA director David Castillo has recently been convicted of being involved in the assassination of Cáceres in 2016.
The Barro Blanco dam project in Panama, which has Dutch financial support, is causing indigenous lands to disappear under water. Both ENDS is working to protect the rights of indigenous communities living near the dam.
Large-scale infrastructural projects have detrimental effects on local people and the environment, while their benefits are felt elsewhere. Both ENDS is working to ensure that local people have a greater say in decision-making and is investigating the way these projects are funded.
News / 1 December 2018
On Thursday, November 29, seven suspects of the murder of Berta Cáceres (in March 2016) were found guilty. Members of the indigenous human rights organisation COPINH, of which Cáceres was the leader, and close relatives of Cáceres herself see the ruling as the first step towards justice for her murder and the recognition that the company DESA is co-responsible for this. They also point out, however, that the process was permeated with corruption, intimidation and other abuses from the very beginning, and that the masterminds behind the murder are still walking around freely.
News / 23 December 2021
2022 is the year for FMO to make good on its promises and provide financial support only to sustainable development
2021 was a turbulent year for Dutch development bank FMO, to say the least. The bank has been under fire for many years for investments linked to human rights violations and suspected corruption. But in the past year, the Dutch press and media have reported on one new development after the other in ongoing cases involving FMO. Below we give a short summary of these cases and call on FMO to make the promised improvements in 2022.
News / 4 October 2017
On September 20th FMO published its new position statements on human rights, land governance and gender. We appreciate that FMO takes human rights serious and applaud the efforts that have been made to come to an improved position on human rights, land and gender. However, to truly have a positive impact on people and the environment, some important follow up steps are necessary.
News / 11 May 2017
A year ago, the Senegalese NGO Takkom Jerry filed a complaint with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Dutch Development Bank FMO, with support from Both ENDS. These banks finance the Sendou coal power station, right next to the fishing village of Bargny. The AfDB has now recognized the complaint. FMO is already processing the complaint and will publish an official response shortly.
News / 10 June 2022
In a new Position Statement on Financial Intermediary (FI) Lending, Dutch development bank FMO argues for limited responsibility over the outcomes investments that are channeled through commercial banks, investment funds, and other financial intermediaries, representing by far the bigger sector of its portfolio. In doing so, FMO is undermining its development mission, including the protection of human rights and addressing the climate crisis. FMO intends to delegate these key responsibilities to its FI clients only, falling short of best practices of peer financial institutions. In a joint submission prepared by Both ENDS, Oxfam Novib, Recourse and SOMO, we argue that FMO can do much more to ensure the protection of human rights, the environment, and to measure the development impact of its indirect investments.
Letter / 1 October 2014
Both ENDS letter to the World Bank on the Environmental and Social Safeguards policies review. The World Bank safeguards review is part of a reorganization that aims at making lending cost-effective with less rules in place, which likely entails an increase in the number of problem projects. The reorganization aims at making lending
more cost-effective, forms in place. Safeguards policies are of crucial importance for project affected people to hold banks to account. However, Environmental and Social Frameworks (ESF) nowadays replace safeguards at banks. The ESF model leads to a reduction of a Bank's direct and mandatory role in overview, including due diligence, monitoring, and evaluation, of Bank funded activities and investments, along with a shift towards a greater reliance on client self-assessment and self-reporting. Our main ask is a return to binding, rules-based safeguards policies at banks.
Letter / 10 June 2022
Both ENDS, SOMO, Oxfam Novib and Recourse sent in a submission to FMO's public consultation on its Position Statement on Financial Intermediaries. In this position statement, FMO only takes limited responsibility for the consequences of its investments through so-called financial intermediaries. We call upon FMO to publish a position statement that focuses on protecting human rights and the environment and take full responsibility for this.