South America Newsletter December 2016

The latest newsletter from the South America Team at AIUK – Ellie May (Brazil), Richard Crosfield (Colombia), Graham Minter (Rest of South America).

“We have three actions for you, one is a petition to sign Amnesty Brazil’s website concerning impunity, a second is on arbitrary detention in Argentina and a third on an attempt on the life of a HR defender in Colombia.
We also report on our recent meetings with the Argentine, Brazilian and Colombian embassies. We three also met with the FCO to discuss Amnesty’s human rights concerns in the region with the new Head of Department .

BRAZIL -Impunity Continues

A court in Brazil has decided to shelve the case of Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira – the 10-year-old boy killed by military police in April 2015.

Many of you will remember our work last year with his mother, Terezinha de Jesus, who bravely travelled Europe to raise awareness of the issue of extrajudicial executions.

The news is shocking considering a police investigation concluded that the police were responsible for his killing in November last year.

Amnesty Brazil has an action in Portuguese calling on the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice to use their influence to ensure the case is brought to trial. Please take action if you can. When filling the form, please note on “Selecioneseupais” you’ll need to scroll to find “United Kingdom” and on “Estado” where you’ll need to scroll right to the bottom and select “Externo do Brasil”. You do not need to put in your date of birth.

Sadly, this is not the only disturbing news of killings following police operations. Last week seven young men were found dead in the Rio de Janeiro favela of the City of God. You can read the Portuguese article on the Amnesty Brazil’s site.

Ellie met with the Attaché for Human Rights at the Brazilian Embassy. Their conversation lasted over an hour and covered the topics of Extrajudicial Executions by Police and Security Forces, the use of lethal force heavy-handed repression of protests during the Olympics and the  Individual at Risk Casefile of Jorge Lazaro Nunes.

The Attaché expressed his concern and regret for the level of extrajudicial executions at the hands of police and the impunity. He noted that the Embassy would be following up Amnesty members concerns with his colleagues in. He also noted that the by forwarding correspondence to the authorities, they highlight that the world is watching them. For those of you working on these case file of Jorge, please do continue to write to the Embassy. [this includes our group, see take action]


Some good news from Venezuela: Rosmit Mantilla, a prominent opposition leader unfairly imprisoned since 2014 as punishment for his human rights work has finally been released.  Amnesty has called for this to mark a profound shift in the government’s approach to dissent and freedom of speech.


In November, we sent you an Urgent Action update in respect of Milagro Sala, who has been arbitrarily detained in Argentina since 16 January.  There is still time to take action here.

Earlier in the month, Graham called on the Argentine Ambassador to discuss our concerns over the safety of Rubén Ortiz, the social leader and human rights defender who is suffering from constant threats and intimidation related to his support for the rights of peasant farmer communities and workers in Misiones province.  The Ambassador undertook to raise the issue with the authorities in Buenos Aires.


The good news is that the Colombian Congress has approved the new Peace Terms negotiated with the FARC, and no second referendum is required.
However, Amnesty notes that

“much of the horror Colombians have been forced to endure for decades has often not been directly linked to direct combat between the security forces and the FARC. Those working away from the spotlight, defending rights or protecting natural resources and territories from powerful economic interests continue to face harassment and deadly attacks. So the peace agreement in itself may do little to keep these activists safe. What they need is effective action to ensure those behind such attacks face proper justice.”

For the full statement read more here.
Richard had a long meeting at the Colombian Embassy to discuss the many human rights issues facing the country.

Human Rights Defenders continue to be threatened and killed at an alarming and increasing rate.

It is important that we continue to respond to these threats and killings, so please write in the terms of the latest  Urgent Action, on the assassination attempt on a leading environmental HRD.  You  can download it here. Please send appeals before 4 January.

Richard is also in contact with the British embassy in Bogotá, which has taken a leading role in tackling human rights issues. 28 November, Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State FCO) stated:

“The UK regularly raises human rights with the Colombian Government. The Prime Minister raised human rights, including the level of threat to Human Rights Defenders, during her meeting with President Santos on 2 November. On 15 November, the UK joined with other EU member states represented in Bogotá to raise concerns about the recent attacks against human rights defenders and trade unionists. Foreign Office officials discussed our concerns with the Colombian Ambassador to the UK on 22 November. Our Ambassador to Colombia raised concerns about attacks on Human Rights Defenders with the Attorney-General the following day.”

Thanks to all of you who are taking action. We love to hear from you and are always on hand to respond to your questions or comments.