Justice or Impunity in the Murder of Indigenous Environmentalists?

All society must be watchful on the judicial outcomes with the cases of Berta Cáceres and Sergio Rojas brutal murders

The fight for earth’s survival cannot be silenced, much less when it comes to our lands, our waters, all that surrounds us. But sadly many times it seems that violent persecution against the eco-warriors is winning the battle for our planet. How many more indigenous environmentalists have to disappear cruelly murdered before justice can be done in their honor?

In The Costa Rica News (TCRN), we have been following closely the situation with regards to the murder 45 months ago of Honduran environmentalist Berta Cáceres. The First Chamber of the Judicial Court imposed sentences of between 30 and 50 years in jail to the perpetrators of the crime, and the seven defendants had been convicted on November 29, 2018, through an oral ruling, but the judges took more than a year to issue a written sentence, generating a lot of suspicion and deep concern among the relatives of Cáceres and causing legal uncertainty in this case.

Once the conviction was passed, Bertha and Salvador Zúniga Cáceres, both children of the environmentalist, read a statement where they again demanded criminal prosecution against the former head of military intelligence David Castillo and the members of the Atala Zablah family. This process has been driven by international pressure from different organizations in the European Union and the United States that have insisted on effective action for justice to be served.

And what happened in Costa Rica?

In 2019, the environmental struggles and the yearning for justice to be done for the murder of environmentalist Sergio Rojas in March this year have remained constant. Therefore, the Council spokesman Ditsö Iriria Ajkönuk Wakpa of Salitre demanded that the intellectual and material authors of the murder of the indigenous leader Bribri Sergio Rojas Ortiz be determined and that the respective sanctions be applied. They said that the Government of Costa Rica has responsibilities for this murder that occurred at the beginning of the year that remains to date unpunished.

It should be noted that in 2015 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary protective measure in favor of the Teribe people of Térraba and Bribri de Salitre, given the continuous cycles of threats, harassment and acts of violence against these peoples and requesting that the government of Costa Rica to adopt the necessary steps to guarantee the life and integrity of these native communities.

In June 2019, Carlos Antonio Zúñiga, Cabécar of China Kichá; Dinorah Estrada, Boruca from the territory of Rey Curré; Roberth Morales Villafuerte of the territory recovered from Crun Shurín, in Térraba, and Daniela Torres, Cabécar de Cabagra, reported that they sent to the Heads of the National Executive and Judicial government branches a document entitled “Public Pronouncement for Justice in the case of Sergio Rojas and the Native Peoples of the South Zone”, signed by more than 20 indigenous, popular and peasant organizations.

Today numerous organizations demand justice and respect for those who have been murdered and all those who continue to receive constant threats against their lives. In this matter, from TCRN, we alert and invite all aware and justice-loving citizens to keep informed and alert about these cases and the defense of our environment.

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At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. We are co-creating an inspired and integrative community, committed to working, living and learning together. We resonate with that deep longing to belong to the hive and the desire to live the highest version of ourselves in service.
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