Days after two environmental activists were killed in Honduras by gunfire, Mary Lawlor, the UN’s special rapporteur on the plight of human rights defenders, urged for an impartial inquiry.
Aly Dominguez, 38, and Jairo Bonilla, 28, both from the community of Guapinol in the eastern Colon Department of Honduras, were murdered on Saturday by unidentified individuals. The robbery was blamed for the fatalities by the local police.
On Wednesday, Lawlor said on Twitter, “It’s crucial that an impartial inquiry be carried out into the murders of the two defenders in Guapinol, Honduras.
Which, she said, “must consider the likelihood that they have suffered reprisals for their work protecting human rights.”
The Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods for the city of Tocoa, located about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Guapinol, was created by Dominguez and Bonilla.
The environmentalist organization claims they have been fighting the development of an open-pit iron oxide mine in a forest reserve since 2015; they claim this concession was given to a firm owned by powerful billionaire Lenir Perez unlawfully.
The mine’s owner, Inversiones Los Pinares, maintains that the concession is legitimate. A request for comment was not immediately met with a response.
According to the authorities, Dominguez and Bonilla were assaulted in a remote location while doing their daily tasks—collecting service fees for a local cable television provider while riding motorbikes.
An effort to steal the money they were carrying was the motivation behind the crime, Colon police spokesman Angel Herrera informed the local media.
Dominguez and Bonilla’s ecological organization, Guapinol Resiste, refuted this assertion on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t a burglary. They died as a result of protecting the rivers from unauthorized mining. Aly and Jairo deserve justice, the organization said on their Facebook page. Additionally, it made note of the fact that the stolen money was eventually given to the perpetrators’ employer rather than being taken by them.
Open-pit mining and the construction of hydroelectric dams, which may harm rivers, water sources, and displace inhabitants, are opposed by several environmentalists and local groups in Central American nations.
Berta Caceres, an indigenous activist and environmentalist, was killed in March 2016 as she was opposing the building of a hydroelectric project in western Honduras. Later, six hired killers and two officials of a company advocating the building of the dam were found guilty.