In their own words

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.

David Ravelo Crespo, Colombia

David Ravelo Crespo, CREDHOS. Photo: PBI ColombiaDavid Ravelo was detained on 14 September 2010 and on 5 December 2012 he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for aggravated murder. International human rights organisations and lawyers denounced the conviction as politically motivated, highlighting procedural irregularities during the trial. On the 20th of June 2017 he was freed, after nearly seven years in prison. 

Healing the wound: Tita Radilla UK speaking tour

PBI UK director Susi Bascon, Baroness D'Souza, Tita Radilla and PBI Mexico in-country coordinator Michael Tamblyn at the House of LordsRosendo Radilla Pacheco, a respected community leader, disappeared in 1974 after being stopped at an army checkpoint in Mexico’s Guerrero state. In July 2009, his became the first case of forced disappearance to be brought against the Mexican Government: the decision of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is due in December. His daughter, Tita Radilla, vice-president of the Mexican Association of Relatives of the Detained, Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations (AFADEM), was in London between 29 October and 7 November 2009, to raise awareness and support for the case and for the struggle against impunity in Mexico.

Maurilio Santiago, Indigenous People's Rights, Mexico

Maurilio Santiago Reyes with Cedhapi member Maria de la Luz Martínez, during a visit to Santo Domingo de Ixcatlán in 2011The 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. 

Dina Meza

Dina Meza is a well-known independent Honduran journalist and defender of freedom of expression and of information. She investigates and reports human rights violations in such cases as the Bajo Aguán conflict and violations of freedom of expression. Dina Meza is currently a freelance journalist and the president of the Honduras PEN Centre.

In conversation with Colombian human rights lawyer Luis Guillermo Pérez November 2015, PBI UK welcomed Colombian human rights lawyer Luis Guillermo Pérez to London, as part of a European speaking tour in which he also attended the UN Business and Human Rights Forum in Geneva and met with representatives of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Luis Guillermo is the president of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective (CAJAR), which works for the defence and promotion of human rights in Colombia as a prerequisite for a just, equitable and inclusive society. Over more than 30 years, the work of CAJAR’s lawyers has resulted in landmark decisions that have improved access to justice for many victims of the country’s long-running conflict. They have faced many serious threats for this work, including being linked to insurgent organisations by government officials, and being publically identified as “military targets” by death squads. PBI has accompanied the collective since 1995. Here, Luis Guillermo talks to PBI UK about the Colombian peace process, business and human rights, and the struggles and rewards of life as a human rights defender.

Mandira Sharma

Lawyer and human rights defender Mandira Sharma co-founded Advocacy Forum in 2001, Nepal’s trail blazing organisation of human rights lawyers.

Mandira grew up in a remote area in western Nepal and, encouraged by her mother, became the first woman in her village to become a lawyer. She studied in Kathmandu and gained a scholarship to do her L.L.M. (Master of Law) at the University of Essex.

Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP)

Humanitarian zone in CurbaradóFor more than twenty years, the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) has defended human rights and accompanied victims of human rights violations in Colombia.

CIJP cites international human rights law and the gospel of human dignity as its reasons for existing. It is made up of 50 members with Catholic, Presbyterian and humanist backgrounds, who support communities or organisations nonviolently affirming their rights in areas of armed conflict. CIJP also supports the search for truth, justice and reparation, as well as negotiated political resolutions to the internal armed conflict.

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective

The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) is recognised nationally and internationally for representing emblematic cases of human rights violations in Colombia, both within the Colombian justice system as well as before the Inter-American System of Human Rights.


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