Justo Sorto, indigenous and environmental leader, was shot to death on Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
Justo was an active member of Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Indigenas Populares (COPINH), a social organisation dedicated to protect the environment and defend the rights of the indigenous people, the Lencas. Through his work with COPINH for 20 years, Justo led the defense of the forest and the opposition to mining projects. He was also founding member of two other indigenous and political organizations, Coordinadora Indígena del Poder Popular de Honduras (CIPPH) and Movimiento Morazanista del Poder Popular (MMP).
Justo had been fighting for years against the binational (Honduras and El Salvador) project to build the dam El Tigre. He was also fighting against the hydropower industry in the community Las Minitas. Just 16 days after Justo’s murder, Pedro Pérez, coordinator of the indigenous council of Las Minitas -which was also fighting against the hydropower industry- was killed.
In 2009, the Honduran government approved a National Water Law that allowed to grant concessions on water resources to private enterprises. Additionally, another law was approved (decreto 233), which allows the installation of hydropower projects in protected natural areas. After this year, the killings of human rights defenders in Honduras (especially those defending environmental rights) has been more frequent.