PBI highlights situation of human rights defenders in Kenya, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia at UN Human Rights Council session

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On March 12, Peace Brigades International (PBI) Advocacy Coordinator Yannick Wild presented to the 55th Human Rights Council Session at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor.

In his presentation, he noted:

In Kenya, grassroots human rights groups raised multiple alerts, reporting that the 2022 Community Groups Registration Act is used to pressure them to refrain from crucial human rights activities, like advocacy and violation monitoring. Many Youth Human Rights Defenders who belong to community-based organizations such as Nairobi’s Mathare Social Justice Centre, face registration challenges or requests to alter their objectives.

In Honduras, 2023 has seen a significant increase in attacks against Human Rights Defenders. Youth are often on the front lines defending human rights in the country, facing cyberbullying, defamation campaigns on social media and in the media, as seen in the case of the organizations COPINH and ARCAH. There is an urgent need to strengthen a national protection system to ensure they can carry out their activities safely.

In Guatemala, over 5900 attacks against Human Rights Defenders were reported by UDEFEGUA in 2023 (2022: 3504 attacks, 2021: 1004). The ongoing cooptation of the justice system intensifies the criminalization of defenders, justice operators, and journalists. Urgent action is needed to request the Public Ministry to stop the criminalization of HRDs and on the contrary to investigate and prosecute attacks against Human Rights Defenders.

In Colombia, the National Protection Unit (UNP) remains deficient, and progress on developing a public policy for Human Rights Defenders, as well as reactivating protection programs for women and collective measures, is slow. Additionally, there is persistent impunity for serious police violations against youth during the 2020 and 2021 protests.

The video of this can be seen here.

For the text of UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor’s comments that opened this session, please click here.


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