Article by PBI-Canada
On September 14, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet presented a Global Human Rights Update to the Human Rights Council.
That report noted:
“The severe socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas region should alert all actors to the urgency of addressing the region’s profound inequalities in development.
Alarming numbers of human rights defenders and journalists continue to be intimidated, attacked and killed — particularly those dedicated to protecting the environment and land rights. I call on all Governments to refrain from discrediting human rights defenders and journalists, putting them at further risk of attacks. I encourage decisive investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators.
In Colombia, my Office has documented 47 killings of human rights defenders in 2020; 44 more cases are in the process of verification. In relation to recent protests in Bogota and Soacha — where excessive use of force may have killed as many as 13 people, leaving more than 300 injured, including 77 with gunshot wounds — my Office is verifying the cases, and has offered technical assistance on democratic and human rights based policing of protests. The 2016 Peace Agreement opened a new chapter for all Colombians, and should be fully implemented to prevent further violence, and human rights violations and abuses.
In Honduras, attacks on and violent deaths of LGBTI persons continue to increase. Since the beginning of the state of emergency in mid-March, OHCHR-Honduras has documented seven killings of trans women; three of them occurred in July alone. In both these countries, I welcome our continued engagement with the authorities, to strengthen accountability.
In Mexico, at least four journalists and seven human rights defenders have been killed in 2020. I welcome our collaboration with authorities to improve the effectiveness of the National Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.”
Bachelet will be commenting on the situation on Nicaragua in a subsequent update.
Peace Brigades International accompanies defenders in Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, as well as those who have fled Nicaragua for Costa Rica.
The UN High Commissioner’s full report can be read here.
Photo: Martial Trezzini/EPA