South America Newsletter Sept 2016

In this month’s newsletter, we have three, although tentative, good news stories for you. Starting in Peru and Argentina, some positive steps have been made regarding women’s’ rights and in Colombia, it looks like the 50-year civil war may finally be coming to an end. You can read more about Amnesty’s position on the Colombian peace discussions and about our Colombia Coordinators meeting with Foreign Office Staff and the Political Officer of the British Embassy in Bogotá. Big changes are afoot in Brazil with the impeachment of the country’s president being confirmed. We also have actions for you to take from Brazil and Colombia. The options to take action are highlighted in red.


Good news! On August 25th, the rebel guerrillas FARC and the Colombian government signed a peace agreement, ending more than 50 years of civil war. For more details click here. For the agreement to be enforced it must be approved by a national referendum which will be held on October 2nd. The outcome of the referendum is uncertain.

However, there are some caveats: The other rebel guerrilla army, the FLN (National Liberation Front) has not yet signed up to a peace treaty. And, for rural communities, indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, the peace treaty may mean little. Paramilitaries, who are still operating with impunity, are the main cause of human rights abuses in rural Colombia.

Amnesty is particularly concerned about impunity for FARC members accused of war crimes, for land restitution for the 6.8 million displaced Colombians and what compensation will be received by victims of the conflict. For Amnesty’s press release, please click here.

Richard met with Foreign office staff and the Political Officer of the British embassy in Bogotá. The UK, via its embassy in Colombia, is one of the leading nations promoting human rights in the country.

Urgent Action: Miguel Briceño, a leader of the peasant farmer community El Porvenir in central Colombia, has been threatened as attempts to forcibly displace the community intensify. Please write to the Colombian authorities by clicking here for the UA.

Amnesty UK published Richard’s blog on the Peace Community of San Jose Apartado, which you can read here.


Good News! Belén, who was sentenced to eight years in prison after having a miscarriage, is free – for now at least. The Supreme Court of Tucumán ruled that there were not enough reasons to keep her in pre-trial detention. The Court is yet to issue a final ruling on the eight-year sentence imposed on Belén by the lower court. Amnesty will continue to campaign for the charges to be dropped.
In July, Amnesty handed over more than 120,000 petition signatures from across the globe to local authorities, calling for Belén’s release. Many thanks to all those who have supported the campaign so far by signing the petition or writing to the Argentine authorities. You can read more here.


In our last newsletter, we reported that the case against public officials alleged to be responsible for the forced sterilisation of thousands of women in the 1990s had been shelved. However, last month the senior national public prosecutor returned the file to the prosecutor in charge of the cases, instructing him to issue a new more comprehensive statement, covering all the cases he had been asked to investigate, within the next 30 days. So watch this space.


The UN will examine Venezuela’s human rights performance in November. Amnesty has tabled a submission in which it notes the continued weakening of Venezuela’s commitment to human rights. You can read the full report, with an executive summary, here.
Last month a court of appeal upheld the 13-year jail sentence against opposition leader and prisoner of conscience Leopoldo López. Amnesty called this “yet another stain on the country’s crumbling human rights record”. Read more here.  [Leopoldo López is one of our case files – take action]


Brazil’s Senate, voted 61 to 20 in favour for the impeachment of Dilma Rouseff of the Workers Party (PT) on August 31st . Michael Temer, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) was sworn into office on the same day. You can read a quick guide to the basics of this on the BBC’s website. For deeper analysis, the Latin American Bureau has an interesting opinion piece discussing where and why democracy has failed in Brazil.  What impeachment means for Brazil’s human rights record isn’t yet know. Amnesty does have concerns surrounding Temer’s initial actions.

The Olympics’ came to a close and so has Amnesty’s petition calling on authorities to curb the violence of security forces. The legacy of the Olympics in Brazil has been one of increased violence with at least eight people killed during the games and peaceful protests heavily repressed. Atila Roque, Director of Amnesty Brazil, stated that “[Brazil] ended the games with even more militarised public security forces, focused on a very selective repression, excessive use of force and combat-like police operations in favelas.” You can read the full statement on Amnesty’s website. The petition, which over 25,000 of you from the UK signed, will be handed to the authorities on September 15th. Many thanks to all of you who signed and gathered signatures with your local groups. You can see pictures of the protest gathering at Marble Arch with Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty UK here.

We are asking you to send a message of solidarity to Jorge Lazaro Samba Nunes Dos Santos. Last month his son 18-year-old son Denilson, was shot whilst walking home. He is the third of Jorge’s son’s to be attacked, with no one brought to justice. Jorge and family have been devastated over the last eight years. Since, the murder of his first son, they have lived in precarious conditions, away from their support networks and suffered a second attack. Those of you who have been working on Jorge’s Casefile will be familiar with the story and for those of you who aren’t, read the full story and take action here.

[Jorge Lazaro is one of our case files – take action]

That is the end of our update. If you would like support with actions, desire a speaker for your group on a country or casefile, please do get in touch. Similarly, if you receive any responses or have photos to share with us of your group campaigning, please do share them. We will endeavour to include all photos we receive in the newsletter.

Best wishes and good luck campaigning,

The South America Team
Ellie May (Brazil)
Richard Crosfield (Colombia)
Graham Minter (Rest of South America)