The Luis Carlos Perez Lawyer’s Collective (CCALCP) is an organisation of women human rights lawyers based in the Magdalenia Medio and Catatumbo regions in northeastern Colombia. These areas are rich in biodiversity and indigenous cultural heritage, and home to vast untapped reserves of coal and oil.
17-year old Valentina Rosendo Cantú lived in an isolated village in Mexico’s impoverished Guerrero state. One morning, soldiers surrounded her as she washed clothes in a shaded stream. An indigenous woman whose first language was Me’phaa, she spoke little Spanish - when she couldn’t answer their questions the soldiers raped and beat her.
On 22 September in Mexico City, 21 Mexican women human rights defenders took part in a roundtable with 14 representatives of the diplomatic corps in Mexico, in which participants reflected on the implementation of the EU Guidelines on human rights defenders and on the prevention of violence against women. The roundtable was organised within the framework of an EU project which aims to develop tools to help Mexican WHRDs strengthen their capacities in areas crucial to their work. As part of the project, PBI is developing a learning platform to build defenders’ skills in advocacy and campaigning, awareness of national, regional and international protection mechanisms, and tools for reporting and documenting violations. This platform opens an educational space for the concept of integral protection and security through courses, workshops and roundtables in which participants can convey their protection needs to the diplomatic corps.
The CEDEHM legally represents victims and families of femicide, enforced disappearances, torture, people trafficking, sexual and domestic violence, and furthermore litigates in the international and national sphere for protection measures for human rights defenders. The members of the Center explain that the work they do takes place in a context of violence in the state of Chihuahua, which claims a high rate of murders and threats against human rights defenders. According to the Center, Chihuahua is characterized by impunity, absence of political will on the part of state institutions, resource constraints as well as the constant threats from the main groups of power in the state. Due to threats, harassment and various security incidents, members of the organization have had precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights since 2008.
Guardian article about the Colombian HRDs who visited London last month
In Brussels on 5 November 2013, a consortium made up of PBI UK, the Mexican Commission to Defend and Promote Human Rights (CMDPDH) and Conexx presented the project “Protecting human rights defenders through building capacity and visibility”.
This video features Alma García, of the Fray Juan de Larios Diocese Center for Human Rights, talking about disappearances in Coahuila. Fray Juan de Larios supports the families of United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila (FUUNDEC).
The families and human rights defenders have called on local and federal authorities to search for the disappeared and give attention to the victims.
The work of women human rights defenders (WHRD) is crucial to building long-term sustainable and stable futures within their countries, but they face a heightened risk of violence on account of being both women and change-makers.
PBI UK’s conference on 24 October 2012 brought together WHRDs from Afghanistan, Colombia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal with professionals working in the fields of human rights, government, law and academia, including representatives of the European Union and United Nations.