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image: Police repression in Peru in 2018 at Alto Huarca in Yauri, Peru. Local indigenous woman denounced violent attacks by police attempting to expel them from their lands occupied by the mining company Glencore Antapaccay.
July 11, 2019.
Nearly three dozen organizations, as well as several esteemed global and regional human rights authorities, have requested a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address “the increasingly worrying problem of the criminalization of environmental human rights defenders.”
The hearing request draws attention to “the alarming and increasingly sophisticated trend of certain States seeking to retaliate against, harass, and delegitimize environmental human rights defenders through the improper manipulation of official investigations, prosecutions, and other proceedings within their criminal justice systems.”
Former Commissioners and Presidents of the IACHR support the hearing request, along with current United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment , two former United Nations Special Rapporteurs, and one former IACHR Rapporteur.
The hearing supporters are alarmed by the vulnerability of environmental human rights defenders across the region, who are too often subject to arrest and incarceration, based on bogus legal complaints filed before corrupt judiciaries. And the environment itself is rendered vulnerable for the lack of adequate protection from these key activists. The criminalization of environmental human rights defenders has a chilling effect on the vindication of human rights and on the protection of the environment across States, the region, and the world.
The growing number of cases of State-sponsored prosecution against environmental human rights defenders represents a violation of the human rights of environmental defenders. In addition, it is a deceitful tactic that contaminating industries, colluding with State actors and complicit media companies, utilize to hinder environmental actions against polluters. These wrongful prosecutions serve to undermine the legitimacy of environmentalists by creating confusion and antagonism in greater society against them, through carefully crafted and unfounded legal and smear campaigns.
In the hearing request, the organizations and individuals assert: “These sophisticated tactics against individuals and communities, and against the rule of law, take advantage of ambiguous criminal laws and reinforce impunity for environmental abusers that manipulate State power for personal, economic, and political gain. Improper criminal persecution may also be accompanied by political persecution or defamation campaigns that compound the harm to environmental defenders. The effects are devastating for environmental human rights defenders and for the environment.”
The proposed hearing will focus on examples of illegal criminalization drawn from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.
for more information contact:
J. Daniel Taillant
+1 415 713 2309
link to the formal petition:
if you would like to share cases of criminalization of environmental defenders with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, please complete the required information at the following link:
Asamblea Ciudadana Ambiental de Gualeguaychú
Asamblea Ciudadana de Famatina
Asamblea de Chilecito
Asamblea el Algarrobo
Asamblea Jáchal no se toca
Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente (CEDHA)
Confederación de Mapuches Argentina
Fundación Ambiente y Desarrollo
Consejo de Abogados y Procuradores de la Provincia de la Rioja, Instituto de Derecho Ambiental
Alianza Territorial Mapuche (ATM)
Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones para la Defensa de la Naturaleza y el Medio Ambiente (CEDENMA)
Corporación de Gestión y Derecho Ambiental Ecolex
Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua (ADA)
Foro de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales Internacionales en Guatemala (FONGI)
Plataforma Internacional contra la Impunidad
Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA)
Instituto de Derechos Ambiental A.C.
Centro por la Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN)
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) U.S. OfficeRegional / International
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional (CEJIL)
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
EarthRights International (ERI)
Front Line Defenders
Peace Brigades International (PBI)
High Level Dignitaries
Former Commissioners and Presidents of the Commission
Juan Méndez, Argentina
Dinah Shelton, United States of America
James L. Cavallaro, United States of America
Current United Nations Special Rapporteurs
David R. Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Former Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteurs
Ignacio J. Alvarez, former Commission Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
Former United Nations Special Rapporteurs
S. James Anaya, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples