UCLA Law Team to Monitor Trial in Slaying of Celebrated Honduran Activist

20181019 Monitoring Honduras Trial
Members of UCLA Law's International Human Rights Clinic in Honduras. From left: Aaron Acosta '18, Amy Kimbel '19, Natalie Mackary '18, Professor Joe Berra, Kelis Moreno Ll.M. '18.

Members of UCLA Law's Promise Institute for Human Rights will travel to Honduras to serve as international observers in the highly anticipated trial of eight individuals accused of the 2016 slaying of Honduran environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres.

Cáceres, a leader of the indigenous Lenca people and the human rights group COPINH, was working to block construction of a government-backed dam on the Gualcarque River when she was assassinated in March 2016. Eight defendants will stand trial for her murder, but members of the Cáceres family allege that the conspiracy is far more broad, pointing to findings by a group of international experts. The family also alleges they are not being allowed full participation in the prosecution of the crime as is their right under Honduran law. They have sought the recusal of the three-judge panel presiding over the case, alleging bias and discrimination.

Joseph Berra, UCLA Law's clinical and experiential project director, and Amy Kimbel '19 will join observers from 16 other non-governmental organizations from North America, South America and Europe in monitoring the trial to ensure that it is conducted in accord with international human rights standards and Honduran law.

The group of international organizations has issued a preliminary report summarizing the case, the applicable laws and the rights of the Cáceres family, witnesses and observers.

Berra has more than 35 years of experience working in Honduras and Central American region, and has developed collaborative partnerships with human rights and grass-roots organizations there. Kimbel traveled to Honduras as part of UCLA Law's International Human Rights Clinic in January 2018.