It is not only in moments of high alert that PBI engages with the members of our support network. All of the defenders we accompany are living with constant threat to their security.
PBI’s advocacy is an ongoing prevention activity, as we keep the members of our network informed of the situation faced by human rights defenders in particular regions or thematic areas, and share our expertise on the ways in which the international community can help protect them.
Over the past year, we have mobilised our extensive, high-profile political support network to announce calls to action at times of imminent risks for individual human rights defenders. This network helps to protect the lives of defenders like Obtilia Eugenio Manuel when they are most threatened. Obtilia is a land and environmental rights defender and member of the Organisation of Me’Phaa Indigenous Peoples in the municipality of Ayutla de los Libres, Mexico. Obtilia works to improve transparency in the construction of public works in the area, and to require construction companies to respect the rights of communities in the use of resources and allocation of works.
Following serious threats, on February 12th 2019, Obtilia and her companion were disappeared. PBI issued an urgent alert, calling on the Mexican authorities to find them, guarantee the safety of Organisation members, and investigate the disappearance. Following our request, the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk sent a letter of concern to minister Sir Alan Duncan noting their concerns surrounding the disappearance. Letters were sent to the Mexican Embassy, high profile NGOs and legal groups. Due to pressure from the international community, on February 16th Obtilia and Hilario were released alive. This is the first time on record that a disappeared defender has been returned alive in the state of Guerrero.