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 update you on developments in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela,and Chile.
Amnesty International reviews the victims of excessive use of force by Colombia’s security services during the National Strike and analyses the killing of 199 Human Rights Defenders in 2020, a new record. We report on the high death rate from Covid-19 among the indigenous community in Brazil, as well as extrajudicial killings and political developments in the country. We have a new Urgent Action on Venezuela and reports on the humanitarian crisis and human rights abuses there. A Mapuche leader, Elisa Locon, has been elected to lead the drafting of the new constitution in Chile, and we cover allegations of human rights abuses by Chile’s national police force.

COLOMBIA

Demonstrators in Cali during the National Strike
1. National Strike – excessive use of force by the security services
Amnesty International reports on the victims of excessive use of force by Colombia’s security services during the National Strike. Between 28 April and 2 June there had been 76 homicides, 34 of which were allegedly caused by the actions of the security forces in the context of the demonstrations. 988 people sustained injuries as a result of the excessive use of force by riot police; 74 of those wounded had eye injuries. There have been 151 attacks against human rights defenders in the context of demonstrations. At the end of a month of mobilizations, the Working Group on Forced Disappearances had recorded 775 people feared disappeared, the whereabouts of 327 of whom remain unknown.
Amnesty adds: ‘The statements of President Duque and other high-ranking officials about the alleged “terrorist purposes” of the peaceful marches must stop. The militarized response to the protests in Colombia, provided for by Decree 575, issued on 28 May, is in breach of Colombia’s international human rights obligations.’
According to The Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) 102 journalists were assaulted, 45 threatened, 14 had their equipment seized, 17 harassed, and 11 illegally detained by the security forces during the strike.

Human Right Watch calls on the Colombian authorities ‘to protect human rights, initiate a comprehensive police reform effort to ensure that officers respect the right of peaceful assembly, and bring those responsible for abuses to justice.’ British police officers have been training the Colombian police for 15 years.
Colombia Peace Monitoring notes that while the organisations that convoked the National Strike are now working with Congressmen on a raft of bills and have called for an end to the strike, groups of mostly young people continued to take to the streets in Bogotá’s poorer southern neighbourhoods, in “resistance” sites around Cali, and in Medellín, Bucaramanga, Pasto, and Popayán. While demonstrations and blockades were mostly peaceful, violence between police and protesters broke out several times during the week.

2. Human Rights Defenders under threat
Programa Somos Defensores (‘We are Defenders Programme) reports that despite Covid-19 lockdowns last year 60% more human rights defenders were killed (199) in 2020 than in 2019, when the overall number of homicides declined by 7% in Colombia.
More HRDs were killed in 2020 – 199 – than in any year since records began.
25 were women and 174 men. Social leaders in rural areas distant from the centre of the state, and therefore invisible, are the principal victims of the violence. They are the community, campesino (field-worker), indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders. These communities are vulnerable to the armed groups who roam the territory and are principally financed by the drug trade and illicit mining. Conflict with these largely isolated communities is often over land rights, coca and marijuana cultivation and recruitment of boys and girls into their ranks.
Activity of victims
Number killed in 2020
Community Leaders  91
Indigenous Leaders  41
Campesino (field-workers) leaders  29
Afro-descendant leaders  11
Environmental leaders 7
Union leaders 6
LGBTI Leaders 5
Other leaders 9
TOTAL KILLED   199
Very few of the perpetrators have been brought to justice. From the Prosecutors’ Office’s own data, Somos Defensores reckons only 0.2% of all threats against HRDs have been officially clarified between January 2015 and February 2021. Of the 2,962 cases investigated by the public prosecutor only 6 have resulted in a conviction.
Amnesty International continues with its action on behalf of Human Right Defenders. Please sign the petition to Congress to ensure that they are protected.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that the number of mass displacements between January and May 2021 has doubled since the same period last year. 80% of the forced displacements are the result of communities fleeing their homes following threats or armed attacks from non-state actors. [click to continue…]

Europe Newsletter July 2021

July 3, 2021

A lot has happened since our last newsletter in June. Two new reports : One on Greece and one on Switzerland have been released. Please see further details below. Turkey has pulled out of the Istanbul Convention. A Roma man has died at the hands of the police in Czech Republic. 3 Demonstrations in four […]

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Group Newsletter June 2021

June 6, 2021

Welcome to the latest newsletter. Below are some updates and links to what you can find on our website. For a variety of reasons we’ve shelved plans to hold a vigil in Bournemouth Gardens on Thursday 10th. This was planned to be a relaunch of “in person” meetings, which we have been without since March […]

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South America Newsletter June 2021

June 4, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS This month, we update you on developments in Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile and Ecuador.  Amnesty has issued a report, several statements and an Urgent Action in response to the human rights violations committed during the current National Strike and protests in Colombia.  We report further indiscriminate shootings by police in Brazil and […]

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Europe Newsletter May 2021

May 9, 2021

The great news  : We are a full Europe team again and you will be finding a  Newsletter full of Actions and information. As a team we have adopted 2 long term casefiles in addition to Eren Keskin in Turkey  : Frederic Vuillaume in France and the El Hiblu 3 in Malta. Groups who are […]

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South America Newsletter May 2021

May 6, 2021

Dear Friends, This month we bring you updates on human rights issues in Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, what the change in President for Peru could mean for human rights and which countries have not ratified the Escazú Agreement. Human rights abuses continue to mount in Venezuela and Colombia. Please sign the […]

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Group Newsletter May 2021

April 29, 2021

Welcome to the latest newsletter. Our usual newsletter schedule, like our meetings, has been somewhat disrupted of late. This issue flags up some pending dates and links to campaigns, talks and other events. The newsletter is being sent out as we hear the awful news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to another year in prison […]

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Group Newsletter April 2021

April 28, 2021

Welcome to the latest newsletter. Our usual newsletter schedule, like our meetings, has been somewhat disrupted of late. This issue flags up some pending dates and links to campaigns, talks and other events. The newsletter is being sent out as we hear the awful news that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been sentenced to another year in prison […]

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South America Newsletter April 2021

April 10, 2021

This month, we update you on developments in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. Amnesty International has delivered a petition signed by over 1 million people to mark the third anniversary of the murder of Marielle Franco in Brazil and has urged the Venezuela government to address the widespread human rights violations […]

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Europe Newsletter March 2021

March 30, 2021

Welcome to the March edition of our newsletter. There is an Urgent Action on Turkey, a public Statement in support of the Saturday mothers in Turkey , an update on the “El Hiblu 3” campaign and a toolkit devised by the Roma support group to help those who are supporting Roma children and families to […]

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