South America Newsletter April 2016

Here is the latest from the hard working South American Team:-

“We have lots of news on the region, an action you can take on Venezuela and there are two petitions, one each on AI Chile’s and AI Peru’s websites, to sign. And there’s good news from Chile on abortion law.


Thanks to all of you who helped to publicise the launch of the report on State Violence against Women and Torture in Sexual and Reproductive Services on 7 March.  The campaign is now well and truly up and running and we shall be asking you to take further action.  Meanwhile, you can still sign the petition on AI Chile’s website here.

The International Secretariat teams dealing with South America except Brazil, are being moved to Lima.  (Brazil is already handled by the office in Rio de Janeiro).  All the staff will probably be new: most of our London-based contacts have left or moved to other jobs in the London office.   We therefore face a transitional period when the new staff will be learning the ropes and this may in turn affect our service to you.  So please bear with us during this period.


Brazil is in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Legal actions were filed against former president Luiz Ignacio (Lula) Da Silva and other leaders of the ruling party linked to a corruption case. President Dilma Rousseff is also being investigated by the Parliament on accusations related to the funding of her presidential campaign. This investigation could lead to her impeachment and her removal from power.

President Rousseff should veto a counterterrorism bill whose overbroad and vague language could be used to undermine freedom of association and expression in Brazil, Human Rights Watch said 14 March in a letter to the president. Humanosphere have denounced the ‘street cleaning’ of street children in Rio ahead of the Olympics. You can read more here.

A draft law known as PEC 215 threatens the land rights of indigenous groups. AI Brazil have sent a letter to President Rousseff .


The peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC have not concluded, as planned, on 23 March. The hoped for agreement on a ceasefire monitored by the UN also failed to materialize, as the parties failed to agree on ‘concentration zones’ for the FARC. For a full explanation read here.

The justice agreement between the government and the FARC could allow members of the armed forces responsible for the systematic execution of civilians to escape justice, warns Human Rights Watch. Between 2002 and 2008, army brigades across Colombia systematically executed as many as 3,000 civilians to make it appear they were killing more rebel fighters in combat in what are known as “false-positive” cases. You can read more here.

Meanwhile the assassinations continue. Four community leaders have been killed this month, reports the Guardian.

Amnesty is concerned about the forced resettlement of people to make way for the development of the huge Cerrejon coal mine in the north east of Colombia. Our IS researcher will attend a meeting with Anglo-American, the owners, in London in April.

CHILE The abortion bill was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 17 March.  It legalizes abortion in three circumstances: where the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the woman, where the foetus suffers from severe malformation and is not viable, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape.  The bill will now go to the Senate for approval before becoming law.  If it is passed, this will bring Chilean law roughly in line with that of most other South American countries, an important step in the right direction.


The bodies of 17 of the informal gold miners who disappeared on 4 March have been found by the authorities.   At least four minersare still missing.  Their relatives and other members of the community may also be at risk.  You can still take action here.

So far four groups have volunteered to work on our new casefileLeopoldo López is leader of the Venezuelan opposition party Popular Will (Voluntad Popular) and has been in detention since February 2014, accused of inciting violence during the anti-government protests.  After a year and a half in pre-trial detention he was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison, without any evidence provided by the prosecution that he had committed a crime.  Amnesty considers him to be a prisoner of conscience as his detention is politically motivated and he was sentenced with no evidence to substantiate the charges against him.  Thank you to Sutton Coldfield; Corby and Kettering; Bournemouth, Poole & Christchurch; and Maidstone & Swale.  It would be great to have a few more, so please think about it!


Human rights issues have so far been largely absent from the Presidential election campaign in Peru.  Voting is on 10 April.  Amnesty has written to all the candidates to express its concerns about the human rights situation in the country.  If you haven’t already done so, please consider signing the petition on the AI Peru website here.


On the eve of President Obama’s visit to Argentina (and Cuba), Amnesty published an open letter to the three presidents highlighting its concerns about human rights in Argentina: access to justice, impunity, the rights of indigenous peoples, freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.  You can read the letter here.”