Ann Clwyd – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Ann Clwyd on 2016-03-07.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if his Department will take steps to protect and improve the security of women human rights defenders in Honduras to take account of the implications of the recent murder of Berta Cáceres.

Mr Hugo Swire

I am deeply concerned by the murder on 3 March of Honduran human rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres. As one of the most prominent activists in Honduras, Berta Cáceres worked tirelessly over many years to promote the rights of indigenous communities. Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my noble Friend, the Rt Hon. the Baroness of Anelay of St John’s, condemned the murder in the clearest terms on 4 March and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. These points, and a wider call for a commitment to human rights and those who defend them, were also set out in an EU statement which the UK has strongly supported. The Honduran authorities are now taking forward an investigation into what happened. We welcome their swift action to initiate an investigation.

Cáceres’ death – and the injuries sustained by Gustavo Castro Soto, a human rights defender who was also a victim in the attack – are clear evidence of the risks activists face in Honduras every day. We continue to call on the Honduran Government to take steps to improve the security situation, and we discuss our human rights concerns with them regularly – as I did during a visit to the UK by a Honduran parliamentary delegation in September 2015. Our Ambassador to Honduras regularly discusses human rights issues with the Honduran authorities. We seek to improve the situation on the ground through a range of Embassy-sponsored projects, for example with Oxfam and the Tribunal for Women against Femicide. We also maintain a close dialogue with non-government organisations and others with an interest in Honduras.