Every day, more women all over the world are taking action to promote equality, peace and justice. It is these women who, whether they mean to or not, are transforming traditional gender roles and power structures by dedicating their lives to defending fundamental human rights. More and more, these extraordinary women are identifying themselves as human rights defenders. In general, it is said that women are doubly vulnerable, for being women and for defending human rights. However, they are strengthened by their determination to create positive change in our societies.
Protection Mechanism’s Functioning May Be Hindered by Lack of Budget
On the 20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, defenders accompanied by PBI reflect on the importance of the Declaration as well as the accompaniment and international solidarity provided by organizations such as PBI.
Over two weeks in September and October, PBI-USA staff members, Amelia Parker and Pat Davis, traveled to PBI projects in Mexico and Guatemala to visit with accompanied defenders and gain a better understanding of their struggles, spend time with PBI volunteers and learn about their daily activities, as well as meet with U.S. and international authorities to share PBI’s concerns regarding the current human rights situation facing the defenders we accompany. Below, we share a few stories from the field.
On October 16, President Donald Trump threatened to suspend all funding and aid to Honduras if a migrant caravan originating in Honduras and headed north is not stopped. When he made the statement, the caravan of some 3,000 immigrants had already crossed into Guatemala. "The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the US is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!" Trump tweeted.
Land, territory and environmental defenders face extreme levels of risk throughout Mexico. In fact, Mexico is towards the top of the list among countries with the most attacks against environmental defenders.
Over three days, 40 human rights defenders from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia came together in Brussels to exchange experiences and knowledge about holistic protection. This meeting allowed us to analyze the global tendencies that impact our risk as well as identify our common needs as a collective of human rights defenders. The sessions allowed us to construct a common narrative and key messages and recommendations to political actors in the European Union and its member states.
Alejandro Cerezo, a human rights defender who is a member of the Cerezo Committee Mexico and coordinator of Urgent Action for Human Rights Defenders (ACUDDEH), was on his way to Paraguay to attend a conference on protective mechanisms for defenders on October 1, when, during a layover in Panama City, he was interrogated and deported.
During the week of June 18, 2018, PBI-USA hosted an advocacy speaking tour with leading human rights defenders from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. In Central America and Mexico, indigenous and environmental rights defenders are extremely vulnerable. At best, governments in the region fail to adequately protect defenders. At worst, government forces are complicit in the attacks against them.
June 6, 2018