Investigate Burglary at Human Rights Organization

Berta Caceres stands at the COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) offices in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras where she, COPINH have organized a two year campaign to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, that poses grave threats to Rio Blanco regional environment, river and indigenous Lenca people.

Target: Oscar Chinchilla, Attorney General of Hunduras

Goal: Open a transparent investigation into the burglary at a human rights advocacy agency’s offices and ensure protection for its employees and clients.

The offices of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ), the Honduran NGO responsible for pursuing high-profile cases including the murder of well-known indigenous and environmental rights activist Berta Caceres, have been burgled. Cameras in the office reveal that the perpetrator ignored money and other valuables in favor of rifling through the organization’s files and stealing computers. These computers contained sensitive and confidential information regarding the murder of activist Berta Caceres. They also contained information on other high-profile cases regarding government corruption, and human rights violations.

This burglary represents a gross violation of legal confidentiality, and undermines efforts to seek justice for the murder of Berta Caceres and other activists. It may expose witnesses in many other cases to the threat of harm, and give corrupt officials opportunity to destroy evidence. While MADJ reported the crime immediately, it took authorities until mid-afternoon the following day to respond. Furthermore, their response did not include any extra protection for the MADJ offices, leaving the offices vulnerable to further criminal activity as the case proceeds. Sign our petition and demand an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation into the burglary and additional protections for MADJ offices, clients, and witnesses.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Attorney General Chinchilla,

I was alarmed to hear of the burglary at the San Pedro Sula offices of Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ). Given the behavior of the perpetrator it is clear that this crime represents a breach of confidentiality, but also threatens to undermine the safety of MADJ staff, witnesses, and clients. This is why I found the response by law enforcement thoroughly inappropriate.

Not only did law enforcement arrive at MADJ offices mid-afternoon the following day, but they have not yet provided additional protections for MADJ and the people involved with the NGO. This may be in part due to the fact that the Honduran government does not recognize the work of MADJ and other human rights organizations as legitimate human rights work. This means that they are not protected under international law.

I urge you to open an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation into this burglary. Furthermore, I urge you to ensure that MADJ and those associated with the organization have the protections they need to proceed with their work unhindered, including recognition as a legitimate human rights organization,

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

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