Article by PBI-Canada
On September 15, Kim-Mai Vu of Peace Brigades International presented a statement during the interactive dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the impact of COVID-19 during the Human Rights Council session.
The full statement by Kim-Mai notes:
“Peace Brigades International welcomes the update from the High Commissioner.
The COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated inequities and structural problems of violence, corruption, impunity that historically affect the countries in which we work: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Kenya and Indonesia.
The expansion of the pandemic in these countries has led to government measures that violate and threaten the enjoyment of fundamental rights, including economic measures that have privileged the interests of the private sector at the expense of the rights of peasant peoples and indigenous peoples, as in the case of the Mayan Train and the Trans-isthmic Corridor in Mexico.
PBI fears a strong escalation of conflict in rural areas, as observed in Colombia with the increase disproportionate number of cases of massacres.
PBI also expresses its concern about the extreme vulnerability of defenders of human rights that have assumed a leading role in the management of this crisis.
We denounce the sharp increase in attacks against them and the impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators in all the countries where PBI works. We regret the closure of spaces that has led to the pandemic for defenders, their movements and communities with a strong restriction of the right to defend rights.
We also note the sharp increase in gender-based violence in Kenya, the serious attacks against freedom of expression of journalists, community radio stations and health personnel in Honduras and the recurrence of digital attacks in Indonesia.
PBI is also alerted to cases of corruption and the growing breakdown of the rule of law of certain countries, such as Guatemala, and attacks against the independence of justice such as Colombia, processes that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. The critical situation of Nicaraguan people exiled in Costa Rica who cannot return to their country.
It is imperative that the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Kenya and Indonesia take immediate steps to protect defenders, prevent attacks and smear campaigns against them and include them as central actors in the management and crisis recovery strategies.”
The 90-second video of Kim-Mai’s presentation of a condensed version of this statement can be watched here (item 24 starting at 37:46).