In March 2016 Pedro Sicá, Guatemalan indigenous leader, visited London as part of a Europe wide speaker tour organised by PBI. Pedro is an indigenous Maya K’iche’ leader of the Cunén Community Council (CCC), a community organization for the defence of the land, natural resources and human rights. In the area of Cunén and northern Quiché, there are many social conflicts around hydroelectric projects, mining and high-voltage electricity pylons. PBI began accompanying CCC in 2010 due to the security risks faced by human rights defenders actively promoting the right to land, territory and natural resources in the region.
In February 2016, PBI UK welcomed Kenyan Human Rights Defender Gacheke Gachihi to London. In Spring 2016 Gacheke was invited to join the Protective Fellowship Scheme for Human Rights Defenders at Risk at The Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York.(1)
Gacheke Gachihi is a social justice activist who has been active in the human rights movement in Kenya for over a decade. He is a founding member of Bunge la Mwananchi (‘People’s Parliament’), an organic pro-poor social movement in Kenya historically related to popular social struggles for empowerment and participatory democracy. He is also currently a coordinator of the Mathare Social Justice Centre. Human rights defenders in Kenya face a particularly dangerous environment including criminalisation (2), harassment and NGOs face threats of closure.(3) PBI Kenya has been working with Gacheke since 2013.
It is with great regret that we announce the loss of one of our Patrons, Lord Avebury, who passed away on the 14 February 2016. Lord Avebury was known for his long-lasting career in Parliament and the House of Lords. Lord Avebury was an influential advocate for a wide variety of victims of human rights abuses and has been a key supporter to the work of PBI UK as Patron over the last years.
A Dangerous Business: The human cost of advocating against environmental degradation and land rights violations, took place at the University of London's Senate House, on 31 October 2011.
The discussion included issues of extractive industries and indigneous communities, land rights, tar sands, Free, Prior and Informed Consent, the UN Ruggie Framework and Guidelines on business and human rights, and the kinds of threats human rights defenders face as they defend environment and land.
On Saturday 12 December 2015, delegates at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference signed the agreement that will form the core of the global response to climate change from the time it comes into force in 2020.
While the deal was hailed by many leaders and commentators as a remarkable diplomatic success for its ambitious warming targets, representatives from indigenous nations around the world took to the streets of Paris to draw attention to the key clauses that had been removed: those that made binding commitments to the protection of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples in climate change solutions. In the final text, all references to these rights were relegated to the non-binding, aspirational words of the preamble.
“As a woman, this work isn’t easy. You have to manoeuvre, argue and put up with three times more than a man to be able to speak up and be heard.” – Silvia Méndez, Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre
“They are ‘Gandhis’ and ‘Mandelas’. They are ‘Rosa Parks’ and ‘Malalas’. They are also ordinary individuals, lawyers, women activists, community leaders, journalists, unionists and environmentalists who strive to re-claim our rights and promote our freedoms.”
So begins a powerful statement by Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, ahead of International Human Rights Day on 10 December. The statement emphasises the crucial role of human rights defenders in international law, calling on states to adopt concrete measures for their protection and parliamentarians to be vigilant against laws that restrict civil society space and criminalise human rights activities.