PBI helps to protect over 1000 human rights defenders - people working nonviolently to promote and protect the human rights of others. They work on a broad spectrum of social, economic, cultural, civil and political rights. Here some of them speak about their work, their experiences, and the challenges they face.
“Sin la tierra no podemos vivir” “Without the land we cannot live”
Land of Corn is the story of four environmental and land rights defenders in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and Honduras. In 2014, a Global Witness report found 116 cases of killings of land and environmental defenders in 17 countries. Central and South America account for more than 75% of all deaths.
Of course, everybody has their own personal history. In my life, I grew up in a poor family, in a poor village in Colombia, so I saw all of the injustice related to that from a very early age. At university I was a student leader and I worked with trade unions. When I became a lawyer, I represented social causes. For most of my professional career over the last 22 years, I have worked in a collective of lawyers, an organisation which PBI protects.
The Human Rights and Defence Resource Centre for Indigenous Peoples (Cedhapi) is a civil organisation established fifteen years ago, with the aim of defending the human rights of indigenous peoples using a legal approach, and international mechanisms. It also assists with reporting abuses and following these up, and capacity-building.
PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee the security of Cristina Auerbach and the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization
Mexico City, 31 March 2016.– Due to the recent intimitadion and slander suffered by the Human Rights Defender Cristina Auerbach, PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee her security and the one of the other members of the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization. Likewise, PBI requests Mexican authorities to publicly recognise the legitimate work carried out by the Organisation.
Networks and organizations across the Americas and Europe issue a statement condemning the assassination of the Honduran human rights activist Berta Cáceres.
Berta Cáceres, Lenca indigenous leader and coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered yesterday at her residence in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. While expressing its deepest condolences to her family, civil society urges the Honduran authorities to invest all necessary resources to investigate, prosecute, punish those responsible and take appropriate remedy measures, including publicly dignifying the memory of Berta. The international community, the statement reads, should also “take all necessary measures to ensure that the Honduran State fulfill its human rights obligations.”
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.
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.
The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Advice for Indigenous Peoples (Cedhapi) is based in the city of Tlaxiaco, in the Mixtec region in the northeast Oaxaca State.
Founded in 2001, Cedhapi's mandate is to protect the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples. It is dedicated to the legal defence and public reporting of cases of grave human rights violations. Among other cases, it represents the relatives of the three people assassinated in Santo Domingo Ixcatlán in April 2008.