Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls on Biden Administration to protect environmental defenders ahead of COP26 summit

Published by Brent Patterson on

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Veronica Escobar, Norma J. Torres and James P. McGovern are among the signatories of the letter to the Biden Administration.

Twelve members of the U.S. Congress have called on the Biden Administration to protect environmental defenders in the lead-up the United Nations COP26 climate summit that starts on October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Their letter states:

“We write to you to express our growing concern over the treatment of indigenous and local environmental activists—often referred to as ‘environmental defenders’—across the world. We urge you to consider using existing authorities, as provided by the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act … to impose targeted sanctions against those persons, including entities, responsible for human rights abuses of environmental defenders and corruption related to climate-impacting industries; and to integrate these tools into the Administration’s strategy to combat climate change.”

It highlights:

“Because these abuses are often connected to ecologically-destructive industrial and corporate activities, using sanctions in this context would create a deterrence against destructive activities that exacerbate climate change.”

Their letter further notes:

“Indigenous and local communities are leading the global effort to fight climate change, often at great personal risk and sacrifice. Thus, doing what we can to defend them from human rights abuses and destructive climate actions should be at the forefront of American foreign policy efforts to tackle climate change.”

Their letter cites Colombia where UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst received “allegations of collusion between companies and politicians, sometimes at very high levels” and Honduras where Berta Cáceres “was harassed and received numerous death threats from industry members prior to her killing.”

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes the President to impose economic sanctions and deny entry into the United States to any foreign person identified as engaging in human rights abuse or corruption.

The letter calls on the Biden Administration to take steps that include:

“Encouraging partner governments with similar sanctions authorities to take a coordinated, multilateral approach to designating appropriate targets.”

The Canadian equivalent to the Magnitsky Act is the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (more at Canada is getting its own Magnitsky Act).

PBI webinar, November 6

Peace Brigades International will be holding a webinar on COP26 and environmental defenders that will take place on Saturday November 6 at 1 pm EST (Ontario/Quebec), 7 pm CEST (European time) and 8 pm East Africa Time (Kenya).

The webinar will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish.

It will feature land and environmental rights defenders from Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico and Kenya.

The webinar will also include an introduction by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David R. Boyd.

To register for this webinar, please click here.

Our speakers will include Danilo Rueda (Colombia), Juana Ramona Zuñiga (Honduras), Amaru Ruiz (Nicaragua)Nelly Madegwa (Kenya).

UN Special Rapporteur David R. Boyd

Categories: News Updates


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