PBI-Guatemala presents at European Parliament’s “Tackling Environmental Criminality” workshop in Brussels

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 19, Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project advocacy coordinator Kerstin Reemtsma spoke at the European Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE) workshop on “Tackling Environmental Criminality in Developing Countries”.

The promotion for the workshop stated:

“Environmental crimes have become a wide-spread phenomenon worldwide and are widely recognised as one of the most profitable forms of transnational criminal activity. Bringing together a wide range of international experts and policy-makers, the workshop, to be held on 19 May, 14.00-16.30, will seek to identify existing gaps in policy and legal responses, and generate debates about how the identified gaps can be filled.”

Reemtsma’s intervention can be seen here (starting at 15:11:33).

Her intervention highlighted that Peace Brigades International accompanies human rights defenders at risk, many of them environmental and land defenders protecting water resources, forests, and biodiversity.

In Guatemala, PBI accompanies an organization struggling for access to water and health.

She noted that local communities have lost access to water because the sugar farms are diverting the rivers to their lands and digging very profound wells.

She also highlighted that close to 30% of all drinking water in the country is used for the irrigation of sugar.

PBI is accompanying an organization in this context that following their struggle for the right to water and healthy environment are suffering attacks, intimidation, smearing, attacks on their homes, and criminalization processes.

Reemtsma said: “It is central that on one side the due diligence initiative and also the directive on the environment, includes strong provisions for the protection of human rights defenders, mainly environmental defenders, as well as very clear mechanisms for participation, meaningful participation prior to investment and environmental impact assessments of major development projects.”

Her full presentation (from 15:11:33 to 15:15:40) can be seen here.

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