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News / 17 May 2018

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.

Participatory decision-making

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.

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