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Report links Honduran govt, industry to activist killings

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — An international watchdog group released a report Tuesday linking top Honduran politicians and members of the business elite to violence against land activists.

The report from London-based Global Witness, two years in the making, names several dozen Hondurans with ties to the government, military and industry who it says are implicated in attacks on activists and acts of corruption.

“The beneficiaries of corruption are the political and business elite, who use criminal means to take advantage of the country’s natural resources and, with the support of state forces, terrorize and kill those who dare to get in the way,” said Billy Kyte, a senior campaigner with Global Witness.

The office of the presidency said it would issue a response later Tuesday.

Global Witness says Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders, with more than 120 of them killed there since 2010.

That includes last year’s murder of Berta Caceres, who was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work leading protests in opposition to a hydroelectric project on her Lenca people’s ancestral lands. Caceres was slain March 3, 2016, by gunmen who forced their way into her home in the middle of the night.

“Our investigations show that crimes against defenders of human rights and the environment are an endemic evil that harms the country and is rooted in corruption and impunity,” Kyte said.

The report calls on the United States to rethink its financial backing for Honduran industry, as well as the police and military, which it says “are heavily implicated in violence against land and environmental activists.”

Global Witness also urged the European Union and international finance organizations to reconsider financial backing.

Ben Leather, another campaigner with the group, said the international community is “complicit” in the degradation of human rights in Honduras.

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