Study: Human-Rights Advocacy a Martyr’s Endeavor in Latin America


EspañolOn December 8, Amnesty International released a report detailing the difficulties experienced in the defense of human rights across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Protesters in Mexico speak out in favor of human rights, spurred on by the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students.
Protesters in Mexico speak out in favor of human rights, spurred on by the forced disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa students. (Flickr)

The report, titled, “Defending Human Rights in the Americas: Necessary, Legitimate and Dangerous,” reveals that the lawyers, journalists, community leaders, and all who risk their lives to defend human rights continue to suffer intimidation, harassment, and violence.

The NGO’s investigation discovered high levels of violence and repression directed against people working toward land rights, women’s rights, and rights for LGBTI people, migrants, journalists, and trade unionists. The document focuses on 200 cases of attacks and abuses in the region during the last two years.

“The tragic reality is that many human-rights defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean are constantly persecuted and attacked in reprisal for their work,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “In various countries we have seen a worrying and shameful increase in the rate at which defenders suffer violence and repression just for standing up for human rights and justice.”

According to statistics, Colombia had the worst cases of violence. In the first nine months of 2014, approximately 40 human-rights defenders were killed. Between September and October, more than 100 defenders and activists received numerous death treats via email, according to the Office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Sadly, in Latin America and the Caribbean, it is increasingly common to see human-rights defenders facing unfounded accusations and unfair detentions. It is of the utmost concern that the authorities are failing to stop the misuse of the justice system as a means of repression,” said Nancy Tapias Torrado, Americas Human Rights Defenders researcher at Amnesty International.

Governments across Latin America have yet to take a stand. “While international standards on the protection of huma-rights defenders have moved forward, there is still a long way to go before those at the very frontline of human rights work are afforded the respect and protection they so clearly need,” said Rosas.

“We urge governments throughout the region to rise to the challenge and fulfill their obligations to protect those who defend human rights so these inspirational activists can continue their fight for rights.”

Source: Amnesty International.

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