November 2017

Colombia: ¿Quiénes los están matando? La lista roja de defensores de derechos humanos

“El doloroso listado de asesinatos de defensores/as de derechos humanos en Colombia, que entre el año 2016 y lo que va corrido de 2017 llegó a 200 homicidios”.

Source El Espectador

Con el reciente asesinato de un líder social, la cifra llega a 200 entre 2016 y lo que va corrido de 2017. Fiscalía trabaja en esclarecimiento de casos.

A comienzos de la semana pasada fue asesinado en el municipio de Caloto (Cauca), Jair Mera. Se trata del integrante de la comunidad indígena Huellas y hermano de la exconsejera de la Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca (Acin), Luz Eida Julicué Gómez. Su homicidio se produjo a manos de sicarios que le propinaron varios disparos. Lo paradójico del hecho es que, según la Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente Colombiano, el hecho ocurrió a menos de 200 metros de la estación de policía y cerca de una base militar.

De esta manera, aumentó el doloroso listado de asesinatos de defensores de derechos humanos en Colombia, que entre el año 2016 y lo que va corrido de 2017 llegó a 200 homicidios. Una cifra que se consolidó luego de cruzar los reportes oficiales de la Organización de Naciones Unidas (ONU), el movimiento político Marcha Patriótica, la organización Cumbre Nacional Agraria y la Defensoría del Pueblo, quienes vienen reportando sus informes a la Fiscalía General de la Nación, con el propósito de que esclarezca el origen de los asesinatos y aplique justicia para evitar la impunidad.

Con estos reportes, las denuncias en los despachos judiciales, las audiencias públicas, el clamor de las víctimas y los requerimientos de organismos de derechos humanos en Colombia y en el exterior, el fiscal Néstor Humberto Martínez, junto con la vicefiscal María Paulina Riveros, diseñaron la primera estrategia de priorización para la investigación y judicialización de agresiones contra defensores de derechos humanos, líderes sociales, políticos y comunales. Su aplicación se empezó a ejecutar y se mantendrá como política institucional hasta el año 2020.

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Philippines: Two members of a human rights fact finding mission gunned down in Iloilo City


ILOILO CITY — Unidentified armed men gunned down two members of a human rights fact-finding mission and wounded another in Bayawan City in Negros Occidental on Tuesday afternoon.

The fatalities were identified as Elisa Badayos, a 59-year-old Negros Oriental coordinator of the human rights group Karapatan, and Eleuterio Moises, a village watchman and a member of Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association.

Carmen Matarlo, 22, was wounded in the shoulder and was in stable condition as of 9:30 p.m.

Elisa Badayos was the wife of former labour leader and desaparecido Jimmy Badayos.

In a phone interview, SPO2 Archer Birjes, investigator of the Bayawan City Police Station, said the victims were in a habal-habal (a modified motorcycle) when they were fired at by at least two men at Barangay Nangka around 3:40 p.m.

The three victims were taken to the Bayawan District Hospital where physicians pronounced Badayos and Moises dead on arrival.

Matarlo was later taken to Dumaguete City, the provincial capital of Negros Oriental, which is about 106 kilometers from Bayawan City.

Badayos had a gunshot wound in the head, while Moises was hit in the armpit.

Police recovered empty shells from a .45-caliber pistol at the site of the incident

Investigators were still determining the identities of the gunmen and the motive of the attack.

According to Birjes, the victims dropped by the Bayawan City Police Station before noon to coordinate with the police that they were going to Nangka to see the village chief, according to Birjes.

But in a statement, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the victims went to the police station to report an earlier incident wherein armed men tried to stop them from entering Hacienda San Ramon in Barangay Nangka where they would be conducting a fact-finding mission.

Patrick Torres, executive director of the Cebu-based Farmers Development Center and a member of the fact-finding mission, said they were on the last day of their four-day activity when the attack happened.

The three victims separated from the 30-person contingent to go to Nangka to interview farmers who reportedly had been harassed by security guards of a land claimant involved in a land dispute.

He said the attack prompted concerns over the security and safety of the other participants who belong to human rights organisations and groups of women, workers and youth in Cebu and Negros Oriental.

The fact-finding mission was conducted to investigate reported cases of killings, harassment and other human rights violations in several towns in Negros Oriental.

Torres said nine members of farmers groups and militant organisations had been killed this year in Negros Oriental. These include eight in Guihulngan City alone.

The killings in Guihulngan happened after the July 21 attack of New People’s Army rebels on the Guihulgan City Police Station, during which six police officers, including the chief of police, died and three others were wounded.

Karapatan condemned the attack.

“The attack on human rights defenders are becoming more rampant, more brutal, more fearless,” Palabay said in a statement. “The perpetrators know they will be dealt with impunity, as human rights have lost force and meaning especially under this regime. Fact-finding missions are a mechanism for human rights organizations to confirm reports of abuses, and this incident has only proven how fascism works to outrightly kill those who dare to question.” /atm

Mexico: Human Rights Ombudsman shot dead in Baja California

The latest wave of killings in the state of Baja California has resulted in the shooting dead of the state’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Silvestre de la Toba Camacho, and his 20 year old son Fernando, as they were driving through the city centre on the evening of Monday 20 November.

As they passed an intersection in the city centre several gunmen opened fire on the Ombudsman’s car, causing it to swerve violently and crash into a building. The Ombudsman and his son were declared dead on the scene while his wife and daughter were seriously injured and taken to hospital.

In a prepared statement, national ombudsman Luis Raúl González Pérez condemned the attack on de la Toba and his family. “The CNDH [the National Human Rights Commission] reports that it has issued preventative measures in order to guarantee the safety of Mr. de la Toba’s family and that of all the staff of the state agency . . . ” said González.

Via the video link below you can access an interview with Silvestre de la Toba Camacho, from April 2017, during which he was asked about the level of violence in Baja California Sur and the killing of journalist Max Rodriguez.

The killing of De la Toba is the first assassination of a human rights ombudsman since the post was created more than 25 years ago in a bid to improve safeguards for Mexican citizens. Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, issued a statement on this latest killing.  “I condemn the killing of Silvestre de la Toba Camacho in the strongest possible terms, and am equally outraged by the assault on his family.” “I call on the state and federal authorities to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted and the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

In January 2017, following his first ever official visit to the country, during which he met more that 800 HRDs, the Special Rapporteur stated “The situation of human rights defenders in Mexico is conditioned by the criminalisation of their activities through the deliberate misuse of criminal law and the manipulation of the state’s punitive power by both State and non-State actors, to hinder and even prevent the legitimate activities of defenders to promote and protect human rights,”

Speaking from Dublin, Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders said, “The killing of Silvestre de la Toba Camacho did not come out of the blue. It is directly attributable to the culpable negligence of the government of Mexico and its failure over years to take effective action to protect HRDs or to bring the perpetrators of attacks against them to justice. Instead it has engaged in smear campaigns and covert surveillance to obstruct their work and undermine their credibility, thereby putting their lives directly at risk”.

In the last week alone 35 people have been killed in Baja California. Most of these killings took place in La Paz and Los Cabos.  Interior Secretary Álvaro de la Peña Angulo acknowledged in a public statement that violence has indeed spiked in Baja California Sur, quoting data from the state Attorney General’s office that indicated that between May and November 2017 there were 376 homicides, 123 of which took place in October alone.

Experts cite various reasons for the rise in killings, including the chaos that has ensued as rivals battle for the turf formerly controlled by fallen drug cartel leaders such as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Several factions are said to be engaged in bloody competition for the fractured empire of the former head of the Sinaloa cartel, now jailed in New York on various charges.

Mexico: impunity for killings by army reveal woeful inadequacy of government reforms

Source MPN News

“When pursuing their various “wars” on drugs and “wars” on terror, the U.S. and the governments it supports in these “wars” are apt to overlook human rights abuses committed by the militaries and police forces upon which they rely. A new report details how this has played out in the Mexican military”.

MEXICO CITY – A study published Tuesday by the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) has revealed the woeful inadequacy of the Mexican government in pursuing cases of human rights violations committed by soldiers against civilians — in spite of recent reforms that allow such cases to be heard by civilian, rather than military, courts. According to its website, WOLA is “a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas.”

WOLA’s report, titled “Overlooking Justice: Human Rights Violations Committed by Mexican Soldiers Against Civilians are Met with Impunity,” examined data made available by Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR). The data showed clearly that the vast majority of investigations, even those in which abundant evidence exists to show proof of wrongdoing, fail to result in punishments for those accused of abuses of human rights, such as extrajudicial killings, torture, kidnappings and the use of excessive force. In all, only 16 of the 505 criminal investigations PGR launched between 2012 and 2016 ended with a conviction.

Furthermore, of those 505 cases, only two involved commanding officers — with the vast majority examining the conduct of rank-and-file soldiers, many of whom claim to have been following the orders of their superiors. WOLA cited this trend as a strong indication that Mexico’s military leadership operates with relative impunity.