March 2, 2017 Press Release
Congressman Johnson is joined by colleagues in efforts to withhold U.S. funds from Honduran police and military in the name of human rights
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), with support from 24 Democratic Members of Congress, reintroduced H.R. 1299, the “Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act.”
The bill was first introduced in the wake of the tragic killing of the Honduran environmental and indigenous rights leader Berta Cáceres on March 2, 2016. H.R. 1299 would suspend U.S. funding to the Republic of Honduras for their police and military operations, until the Honduran government begins an investigation into law enforcement violating human rights in Honduras.
“Recent reports indicate that two of the men allegedly involved in a Berta Caceras’ murder were trained in the United States – at Fort Benning in Georgia to be exact – through the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), more commonly known as the School of the Americas,” said Johnson. “This underscores the need for increased oversight of American resources and security assistance provided to Honduras and is another reason why it was important to reintroduce the Berta Caceres Human Rights Act.”
The proposed bill, which also suspends funding for equipment and training, has gained traction and support from other key members in the House.
“I am proud to support this bill that will ensure that U.S. military and police aid is dispensed only when Honduran institutions have demonstrated a firm commitment to bring perpetrators of violence to justice,” said Rep. John Conyers.
“When we send American taxpayer dollars abroad, we are sending a message about our hopes and values as a nation,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. “A year after Berta Caceres’ death, the Honduran government continues to turn a blind eye to the perilous situation that labor, environmental and indigenous rights activists face in their country, many times at the hands of their own law enforcement officials. Until and unless the Honduran government puts an end to those practices and instead permits an impartial and thorough investigation of past abuses, it does not deserve the support of American taxpayers. I am proud to join Rep. Johnson in re-introducing this legislation. I hope that we will be able to honor Berta Caceres’ legacy by improving the state of affairs for activists in Honduras.”
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), José Serrano (NY-15), Jan Schakowsky(IL-09), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Susan Davis (CA-53), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Daniel Lipinski (IL-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-01), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), David Cicilline (RI-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), and Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) are original cosponsors of the bill.