IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. / Quito – Representatives of Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru gathered on November 21 in Quito, Ecuador, to bring together their national mechanisms to protect human rights defenders and journalists in Latin America.
The meeting—hosted by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)—highlighted the strategies and prevention measures developed by protection mechanisms in each country, stressing implementation measures and action to address collective issues.
The event further enabled discussion with civil society organizations who work to protect human rights defenders and journalists. These organizations shared their perspective on the operations of national mechanisms. The organizations Artículo 19, Front Line Defenders, Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos, Peace Brigades International, Protection International, and Reporters Without Borders all took part in the event.
Representatives of national mechanisms hailed the regional gathering as a platform to share views on the situation of human rights defenders and journalists, allowing them to discuss the main challenges they face and the best practices they have developed. They also agreed on monitoring efforts that need to be implemented in 2023, with the support of the OHCHR and the IACHR.
Xavier Mena, the OHCHR's Deputy Regional Representative for South America, noted that "States have the obligation to ensure a safe, favorable environment" for the defense of human rights. "However, defenders and their communities continue to face risks and violations of their own rights as a consequence of their work," Mena said.
The IACHR's Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders and Justice Operators, Joel Hernández, noted that "these platforms for dialogue are of the utmost importance to address and discuss these obligations and to ensure that the actions of these protection mechanisms contribute to effective compliance with the need to protect human rights defenders."
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.
According to global data gathered by the OHCHR, human rights defenders were murdered in almost one third of all Member States of the United Nations over the period 2015–2020, including 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Alarmingly, almost three out of four murders of human rights defenders around the world happen in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than half of the people killed in the region were leaders of peasant communities and land and environmental defenders, and at least 14 per cent of them were women. Find out more on https://www.ohchr.org/en/topic/civic-space-and-human-rights-defenders.