This Wednesday, July 6, the “Protocol of Hope, a roadmap to address threats”.
Experts and references in human rights held a meeting, through the Zoom platform, to deepen the role of the “Protocol of Hope” as an international tool to respond to threats against human rights defenders.
Participating as panelists: Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, human rights defender, professor and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mary Lawlor, United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Tea Gorjanac Prelevic, Executive Director of Human Rights Action, Montenegro; Diego García Sayán, UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Yirley Velasco Garrido, a human rights defender in Colombia, who has been affected by threats; Edison Lanza, expert on freedom of expression and former Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Enrique Eguren, Senior Advisor at Protection International; and Viviana Krsticevic, executive director of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL).
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel recalled being a survivor of the persecutions, not only in Argentina, but also in Brazil, Paraguay and Chile. His central work is Latin America, although he covered many issues in different parts of the world, such as Africa, the Middle East, Palestine and Iraq.
In his speech, Pérez Esquivel said that human rights in a democracy are indivisible values and democracies are violated, weaken and cease to be democracies. He added that human rights organizations are not there to relieve people’s pain, they go much further, it is a change in structure, thought, politics and culture.
Human rights in democracy are indivisible values
“When we talk about human rights, we talk about the right of peoples to understand their importance and that affects the community and not just one person.” For example, what happens with armed conflicts against indigenous peoples.
There are governments that say they are democratic, but they are not.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner stated that there are governments that call themselves democratic, but they are not. In this sense, he exemplified with the case of Paraguay. “He referred me to the murder of the Villalba sisters, two 11-year-old girls who were disguised with guerrilla teams and spoke of a confrontation.”
He assured that “those responsible for these murders were the Armed Forces in complicity with the current government of the day.”
He said that investigative missions were sent to Paraguay and rights defenders were arrested and expelled from the country.
On the other hand, Pérez Esquivel also referred to the disappearance of “Lichita”, a 15-year-old teenager, whose whereabouts are unknown.
He stressed the importance of Hope Protocolof trying to socialize it in the organizations to contribute legally.
He said that they also work when there is “torture, disappearance, damage to the environment, mega-mining, the brutal repression of indigenous peoples and situations of inequality.”
On the other hand, he questioned international organizations. In this sense, Pérez Esquivel stated that The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “always arrives at the wrong time and when the conflicts are very advanced.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is often not on the side of the people, but of the interests of the United States
He questioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “because many times it is not on the side of the people, but of the interests of the United States.” He said that Argentina requested the resignation of the secretary general, Luis Almagro.
The United States is one of the great violators of human rights and has great and absolute impunity
“I don’t know why all the international organizations are in the United States. From the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Commission or the United Nations. The United States is one of the great violators of human rights and has great and absolute impunity, because it signs all international treaties, but does not ratify any”, he sentenced.
He added that the participation of the United Nations has not been achieved either, and for this reason efforts are being made to strengthen legal action, as is the case of the American Association of Jurists.
But the specialist warned that “there are still no legal mechanisms for human rights defenders, for journalists, or for environmental defenders.”
As for the crimes against humanity of the dictatorship, if there is no sanction there is legal impunity
Regarding the crimes against humanity of the dictatorship, he said that “if there is no sanction there is legal impunity”, and for this reason the actions must be strengthened.
“Many things have to be changed, we do not have the solution, but we have the obligation to defend the lives of people and peoples, so the Esperanza Protocol is welcome. We will try to deepen, to share it and see how we can join wills in defense of life and our peoples”, Pérez Esquivel pointed out.
advance against activism
For his part, Edison Lanza said that it is a complex moment for the region and in particular for Latin America, referring to human rights defenders and activists, because they face not only the classic threats, but also in a more general framework of consular attacks. .
We have faced, from international organizations, but also from civil society, an advance against activism in general
“In the last three or four years we have faced, from international organizations, but also from civil society, an advance against activism in general. It has been raised as a cultural battle to discourage participation, discourage civic spaces through different tools, discourage claims, complaints and the role played by human rights defenders, in each of the countries, ”he said.
Lanza listed that he has seen from “threats of physical or psychological violence to more serious situations of murder of defender leaders, journalists; and also other ways of attacking the work of defenders through stigmatization and public accusation by high authorities or leaders pointing them out to corruption, partisanship, and attacking the homeland or in defense of a misunderstood nationalism, and this has generated a adverse climate for the exercise of rights”.
He stated that there has also been an “attack on organizations through regulations that affect the organization of civil society, trade union organizations in the space of education and academia, fighting to talk about the defense of the Earth, of labor rights , of sexual and reproductive rights and trying, in different ways, to close down or close civil spaces.
What is in the background is trying to restrain a democracy based on the revenge of the new mega-powerful
What is in the background is trying to hold back a democracy based on the revenge of the new mega powerful, a democracy based on decision-making by a handful of actors with too much power.
Lanza stated that the danger faced by human rights defenders in exercising their social functions has to do with the “right to life”.
“We have seen with pain, how the situation has deteriorated in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, with prison as a latent form of repression, in Venezuela, but also in other countries where there are spaces to exercise the claim of human rights. and more subtle mechanisms appear, such as the repression of social protest as in the Andean countries and in Brazil”.
Said the Protocol for Hope tool is indispensable and it can have an impact on different orders, for justice operators, international organizations, civil society organizations and the discussion of human rights defenders.
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Pérez Esquivel: Human Rights in a democracy are indivisible, if democracies are violated they are weakened