Human rights defenders continue to experience attacks, threats and repression during pandemic. The UK government must do more to support and protect them.
"What gives me strength is the struggle that other people carry on - against the companies that dispossess people of their territory. To know that others continue the fight and that I am not alone."
"These defenders are part of a global movement to protect the planet. They are on the frontline of fighting climate change, preserving ecosystems and safeguarding human rights. They stand up for causes that benefit us all: sustainability, biodiversity and justice." - Global Witness
2017 was the deadliest year on record for land and environmental defenders, according to a new report released on 24 July 2018 by NGO Global Witness.
International day of the world’s indigenous peoples represents an opportunity to reflect on the contribution made by indigenous communities around the globe. While the common narrative surrounding indigenous people often focuses on their vulnerability, PBI's experience working with grassroots community groups at the forefront of the struggle for land and environmental rights in Central and Latin America highlights that they are also important agents of change.
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.
David Ravelo, a prominent Colombian human rights defender, has to this date served five of the more than 18 years of prison he was condemned to, for allegedly plotting the murder of a Colombian public official in 1991. More information here.
September 14 2015 marked five years since the prominent human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo, a member of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) of Barrancabermeja (Colombia), was arrested. The non-governmental organizations and international networks reiterate their concern about the lack of due process in this case which culminated with a sentence of 220 months imprisonment.
Read the full press release here.
Since Mr. Ravelo Crespo has been detained, national and international bodies have denounced numerious irregularities in his case. Despite this, Mr David Ravelo was convicted to 220 months in prison. On the 11th February of this year an annulment petition was filed before the Superior Tribunal of Bucaramanga, and in March the Tribunal transferred the case to the Supreme Court of Justice.
The Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of Colombia in the case of David Ravelo Crespo, a Colombian human rights defender who has been in prison since 2010. Mr Ravelo is a member of CREDHOS, a regional human rights organisation in the Magdalena Medio region. David Ravelo was detained on 14 September 2010 and on 5 December 2012 was sentenced to 18 years in prison for aggravated murder. International human rights organisations have denounced the conviction as politically motivated, highlighting procedural irregularities during the trial.