South America Newsletter June 2015

This is the latest newsletter from the South American team. Its copied virtually verbatim – obviously we’ve not tried out all the links!


A Colombian trade union leader, Gilberto Torres, is beginning an unprecedented claim for damages against BP in the high court in London, alleging the oil company’s complicity in his kidnap and torture 13 years ago. Read a recent article in the Guardian.

The FARC suspended an almost five-month unilateral ceasefire on Friday after troops killed 26 of its fighters, a move that looks set to ratchet up tension at the talks. Read more:

The Colombian Human Rights Lawyer Jorge Molano is in the UK from 3rd to 7th June 2015. He represents victims in some of the most emblematic human rights cases in Colombia, including the 2005 massacre against the San José de Apartadó Peace Community. Actions to follow.

The text of a prospective American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been compromised during discussions by members of the Organization of American States and, if not corrected, will result in a Declaration that denies the rights enshrined in the landmark 2007 United Nations Declaration. Read Amnesty’s public statement attached.

Key witnesses and lawyer harassed. Andrea Torres Bautista, the witness’ lawyer and other members of the human rights organisation Fundación Nydia Erika Bautista, have also been threatened. Another witness in an emblematic case of enforced disappearances has been attacked.


Evany José Metzker, who had investigated child prostitution and drug dealing, was found dead in Minas Gerais State. He was tortured before being decapitated. At least 14 Brazilian journalists have been killed since 2011. Read more at

Ahead of the Rio Olympics in 2016, some construction companies have been found to use slave-like labour. The Brazilian authorities have created a ‘Dirty List’ of these construction companies. Building before the 2014 World Cup included forced evictions. Read more here:

China has offered up to $53 billion to Brazil alone to finance infrastructure. The largest project is to build a railway from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from Peru to Brazil. This would cross a large swathe of Amazonia endangering indigenous communities and plant and animal species. For more read

Four groups of indigenous people in Brazil’s Amazonia have protested the cascade of dams on the Telas River and plans for the Tapajos River. Issues include indigenous land rights, lack of a consultative process, and the use of executive orders by the authorities to overrule the courts. See

Groups have until 23 June to write to the authorities on an Urgent Action about a violent attack by the military police on a peaceful demonstration of teachers in Parana State, Brazil.


There has been a huge response to the campaign in support of the 10-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather and is being denied the option of an abortion. Despite the hundreds of thousands of signatures that have been sent to the Paraguayan authorities the authorities have not yet granted her this. We continue to monitor the situation and are grateful for all the actions that you are taking in her support.


We have sent you three Urgent Actions since the last newsletter, reflecting continuing concerns about the human rights situation.
Human rights defender Víctor Martínez and his family are still at risk as the protection measures granted to him are not being adequately implemented
Horacio Giusti, a journalist and volunteer press officer has reported being beaten, an attack that appears to be directly linked to his work at a lawyers’ network that has represented hundreds of people detained during the anti-government protests last year.
Opposition politician and former Mayor of San Cristóbal, Daniel Ceballos, was transferred from a military prison to a high-risk civilian prison and there are fears for his safety.


Four people, including one police officer, have been killed and hundreds injured during protests against a planned copper mining project in the south of the country. The authorities imposed a state of emergency in the region following the latest killing on 22 May. Amnesty has called for peaceful protests to be allowed to continue, arguing that violence from some protesters should not be used to quell the right to peaceful assembly; and has called on the authorities to ensure that those who are protesting peacefully are able to continue to do so. An Urgent Action will follow shortly.


An environmental activist and community leader, Darwin Javier Ramírez Piedra continues to be targeted in what appears to be an attempt to silence his campaigning against the impact of mining activities on the community’s right to water. This will have a chilling effect on others wishing to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association.
Urgent action:


A military court has substantially reduced the sentence imposed on a military policeman responsible for the death of a 16-year-old boy in 2011, reawakening concerns over the practice of hearing human rights abuse cases in military courts. Amnesty’s public statement, only available in Spanish, is here: