London, San José and Washington, DC—In light of the recent announcement made by the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras, MACCIH) and accusations and threats against its staff, the international civil society organizations listed below reaffirm their support for MACCIH and its important work to help local institutions tackle corruption in Honduras. On July 13, MACCIH announced that it would investigate the funding and government concession granted to Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) for the Agua Zarca dam project for possible corruption and money laundering. The investigation would be carried out in partnership with the Honduran Attorney General’s Special Office for Ethnic and Cultural Heritage.
The disputed Agua Zarca hydroelectric project has garnered international attention and concern since the March 2016 assassination of Berta Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca leader, environmentalist, and human rights defender. Ms. Cáceres, the community she represented, and other human rights defenders opposed the Agua Zarca project, criticizing the failure to adequately consult with the affected indigenous communities, as required by the ILO Convention 169, to which Honduras is a party, and raising concerns about alleged irregularities in how the license was granted to DESA to develop the project. The investigation into her murder has moved with troubling slowness, and the intellectual authors of the crime have yet to be identified.
It is deeply concerning that attacks against MACCIH have played out in the Honduran media in recent days in response to its announcement that it will collaborate with the Attorney General’s Office in investigating possible corruption around the Agua Zarca case. The most recent spate of direct attacks is part of a pattern of efforts to undermine the MACCIH’s credibility. We call upon all interested parties to respect the MACCIH’s mandate to address matters such as the Agua Zarca case in conjunction with the Honduran Attorney General and to allow the facts of the matter to be determined in a court of law, on the basis of diligent investigation. We also call on the international community to guarantee sufficient resources for the MACCIH to carry out its work.
The MACCIH was created in 2016 to help strengthen Honduras’ judicial system in the fight against corruption and impunity through cooperation, technical advice, and supervision of local institutions responsible for preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of corruption.
As has been seen throughout the region and the world, corruption has a negative impact on virtually all aspects of a country’s development, including legal certainty, investment, and respect for human rights. It is incumbent upon the Honduran government and all sectors of society to allow MACCIH to carry out its mandate free from spurious accusations, interference, and attacks.
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)