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Abstract

On March 2, 2016, the murder of human rights defender Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores and attempted murder of Mexican environmental activist Gustavo Castro Soto in the town of La Esperanza, Department of Intibucá, Honduras occurred. Their families and the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) immediately requested an independent investigation because of concern that Honduran authorities would not identify the intellectual authors of the crime.

Berta Cáceres's family and COPINH made this request before the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the United Nations, and many other national and international actors. Nevertheless, their appeal was disregarded by the Honduran State.

In light of this refusal, the family and COPINH, together with the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and other national and international organizations, insisted on an investigation by a group of independent experts. As a result, in November 2016, the International Advisory Group of Experts (GAIPE) was created. Its members include Dan Saxon, Roxanna Altholz, Miguel Angel Urbina, Jorge Molano, and Liliana Uribe Tirado.

Subsequently, GAIPE conducted four on-site visits to Honduras; interviewed more than thirty individuals, analyzed diverse reports by international human rights organizations; and reviewed ten criminal cases resulting from COPINH complaints as well as legal actions filed due to the lack of free, prior, and informed consultation related to the Agua Zarca Project. Additionally, GAIPE had partial access to the evidence in the criminal investigation of the murder of Berta Isabel Cáceres and the attempted murder of Gustavo Castro.

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