marielle francoMarielle Franco was born and raised in a favela in Rio, Brazil. An elected councillor, she worked tirelessly to promote the rights of black women, LGBTI and young people.

Marielle inspired many people. She refused to stay silent about police killings and continued to speak out against injustice right up until hours before her brutal killing in March 2018. A car pulled up beside hers, and Marielle was shot four times in the head. Her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes was also killed.

People who defend human rights in Brazil, like Marielle, are often attacked or threatened. The authorities do not respond adequately – and most of these crimes go completely unpunished. Two ex military policemen are currently under arrest; unfortunately that can often lead to no further action. We need to maintain the spotlight on her case.

Marielle dedicated her life to speaking out for LGBTI, black and women’s rights in Brazil. She paid the ultimate price for defending human rights.

Demand a full, independent investigation into her murder by signing the AIUK petition to the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro. Click on the link below…

This month we have a good news item from Colombia and an Urgent Action on Venezuela. The Colombia section explores the data on killings of human rights defenders (HRDs) plus the latest forced evictions and news on anti-personnel mines. We follow the fate of Venezuelan immigrants in Peru, the excessive use of force by the police in Chile, political developments in Venezuela and the granting of unsettling new powers to the armed forces in Ecuador. We provide links to Amnesty’s new films and stories on Women HRDs in Peru and news about a HRD in Chile. Police killings of predominantly Black young men in Rio and indigenous land rights are the focus in Brazil.

José Cortés Sevillano, President JAC, Tumaco, Nariño, Colombia. Killed 6 September 2019

José Cortés Sevillano, President JAC, Tumaco,
Nariño, Colombia. Killed 6 September 2019


Good news on last month’s Urgent Action! Since the COVID-19 lockdown started in Colombia, the indigenous community of ASEINPOME faced at least 2 security incidents.

Following pressure, including the appeals from Amnesty International’s supporters, the Technical Investigation Body of the Villavicencio Public Prosecutor’s Office visited the community of ASEINPOME with the intention to identify the attackers and stop them from further threatening the indigenous community. We will be in close contact with the indigenous community to assess their security situation and will swiftly react if there is a new security incident.

The Colombian NGO Somos Defensores (‘We are Defenders) reports that 124 Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) were killed in 2019, the second highest number since the organisation began recording deaths in 2010. This is by far the highest number of HRDs killed in the world (30% of the world’s total). The main reason for this high rate of killings is the ongoing conflict in Colombia in large part fuelled by the enormous profits from cocaine, which encompasses the cultivation of coca, its processing and export to consuming nations.

HRDs killed 2010 to 2019:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
32 49 69 78 55 63 80 106 155 124


Most HRDs killed were from rural communities who are defending their land rights, many of them indigenous and Afro-Colombian.

HRD’s killed by category:

Land Rights Defenders Indigenous Leaders  Afro-Colombian Leaders Environmental Defenders LGBTI, Trade Union, Women, Academic Total
        79       32           5          2           6          124


Although most perpetrators are unknown, of those who are known the vast majority were paramilitaries and dissident FARC. Paramilitaries are armed groups that were once linked to the Colombian Army, Dissident FARC armed groups are formed of FARC combatants, who did not lay down their arms in 2016, and the ELN (National Liberation Army) is not in peace discussions with the Government.

Perpetrators of HRD killings:

Unknown Paramilitaries Dissident FARC ELN Armed Forces    Total
       82           21             16           4            1         124


Somos Defensores also reports that 47 Human Rights Defenders were killed in the first three months of 2020 almost double the number in 2019. Risks to HRDs increased as a result of the arrival of Covid-19 in Colombia. Restrictions on movements have impeded threatened HRDs from moving houses and the National Protection Unit has reduced its services.

Miriam Vargas, of Paez, Cauca. Killed 26 June

Miriam Vargas, of Paez, Cauca. Killed 26 June

 The Colombian daily El Espectador reports 3 HRDs killed in the space of 48 hours at the end of June, including. Luz Miriam Vargas Castaño, indigenous woman from Paéz, Cauca, who was killed 26 June 2020. She led the ‘PazAdentro’ project financed by the European Peace Fund.

About 1,300 people of an indigenous community were forcibly displaced in the third week of May from Catrú in Chocó, Colombia. They were fleeing the conflict between various armed groups in their territory.

The magazine New Yorker commissioned a short film Demining sacred space in Colombia’s Amazon basin, which shows how the indigenous Siona people are destroying anti-personnel mines placed by FARC combatants to protect their jungle camps on Siona territory. Mine Action Review notes that ‘Colombia continues to be without an accurate baseline of anti-personnel mine contamination, making it difficult to measure progress, not least because its reporting of survey and clearance is inaccurate.’ [click to continue…]

Group Newsletter June 2020

June 18, 2020

Welcome to the latest newsletter. The next meeting  is on Thursday 18th June 2020, 8.00pm, – on ZOOM.  After the inaugural Zoom meeting last month proved a success, we will give it a go again this week. Its more of a discussion than a meeting. There will be updates on Europe and Refugee week – more details below, […]

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Central & Eastern Europe Newsletter June 2020

June 16, 2020

The situation for Human Rights worldwide is not improving, but campaigning pays a vital role in protecting and improving human rights. Please continue the great and vital work you are doing ! There are a number of very urgent Actions in this Newsletter. Please take action and distribute as far and wide as you can. […]

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South America Newsletter June 2020

June 3, 2020

This month, we inform you of two new regional campaigns aimed at addressing the impact of COVID-19 on human rights in the Americas. We also report specific COVID-19-related developments and concerns in individual countries.  In Colombia, there are reports of further forcible displacements and the targeting of Human Rights Defenders by the security forces.  In […]

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Europe Newsletter May 2020

May 24, 2020

As you can see from the last three posts, we have been somewhat focussed on Europe during the lockdown. This has led to some of us attending Ulrike Schmidt‘s talk from the Hammersmith group (via Zoom) on the 13th May, then our own Zoom meeting on the 20th. So we thought it useful to start […]

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Group Newsletter May 2020 UPDATE

May 18, 2020

Last September we had an excellent talk from Ulrike Schmidt – Shrinking Spaces in Europe. We delighted to announce Ulrike is giving a Zoom talk to Hammersmith & Fulham AI Group, “Human rights in Hungary, Poland and Central Europe” It’s open to everyone on Wednesday 13th May at 7.30pm. The only problem is, it clashes with […]

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Group Newsletter May 2020

May 7, 2020

The next meeting  is on Wednesday 13th May 2020, 8pm, – on ZOOM.  After a bit of experimentation we have decided to try and hold a virtual “meeting” – more of a discussion. More details below, but please reply if you would like an invite. Human Rights in Europe after COVID-19 At the start of the pandemic Amnesty […]

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Europe at a Crossroads

May 6, 2020

Last year we had a talk by Ulrike Schmidt “Shrinking Spaces for Human Rights in Europe“. She gave us an excellent overview on human rights infringements in Europe, with some actions we could take. Our group has continued to follow developments in Europe, particularly human rights infringements that don’t make the headlines. Amnesty International published […]

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South America Newsletter May 2020

May 5, 2020

This month’s newsletter includes good news regarding the release on bail of a Venezuelan journalist, an urgent action for Colombia,  two regarding Venezuela  and a petition regarding the response to Covid-19. The Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on human rights is discussed in relation to several countries. In Colombia, the killings of human rights defenders […]

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