On Wednesday 20 June 2018, Dublin based international human rights organisation, Front Line Defenders, along with the HRD Memorial Network, launched a major new report at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the killing of human rights defenders (HRDs).The report, Stop the Killings, analyses the root causes of killings of HRDs in 6 countries: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines, which between them have accounted for 80% HRDs killed in the last three years.
Front Line Defenders Executive Director, Andrew Anderson, talks here about why the killing of HRDs is such a critical issue.
In its Annual Reports for the last 4 years, Front Line Defenders has reported the killing of 879 HRDs. These were not random killings but the targeted elimination of those working to improve their own communities. The use of lethal violence to silence those who defend the rights of the most vulnerable has become widespread, and is endemic in a number of countries. In its 2017 Annual Report, Front Line Defenders reported the killing of 312 HRDs in 27 countries; the true figure is certainly higher. Two-thirds of those killed were working on the environment, land rights and indigenous peoples’ rights, often in remote, rural areas.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Mary Lawlor, founder of Front Line Defenders. said “This report exposes the global phenomenon of targeted killings of human rights defenders and shows how the lack of action by governments to protect citizens enables violence against HRDs. If governments cannot – or will not – bring perpetrators to justice, they are effectively accomplices. The report chronicles the corruption, incompetence and lack of political will to defend those who risk their lives to protect the rights of others”.
Among the key drivers of killings and violence against HRDs detailed in the report are::
- state failure to recognise the legitimacy and importance of the work of HRDs;
- smear campaigns against HRDs by the state and/or its agents;
- economic policies which prioritise the ruthless exploitation of natural resources over the protection of the environment and the land;
- refusal to recognise and protect rights of campesino communities and indigenous peoples;
- lack of effective systems to document and investigate attacks on HRDs and provide protection;
- collusion by the state and/or its agents in the killing of HRDs.
The report was launched by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Agnes Callamard, at a special side event during Human Rights Council proceedings.
The full text of the report is available here
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