The International Land Coalition (ILC) announces the publication of the infonote International mechanisms for protecting human rights defenders at risk for their work on land rights.
Human rights defenders (HRDs) working on land rights frequently come under attack from their own governments or powerful private actors. For instance, minority groups, indigenous peoples and those working in remote areas frequently suffer human rights violations. HRDs and their family members are killed at an alarming rate for defending human rights, and they suffer physical attacks and attacks on their homes and offices. In many countries, the criminal justice system is used to fabricate charges against HRDs, and they may also be labelled as rebels or terrorists to undermine their credibility.
The Tirana Declaration, which was approved by ILC's General Assembly in May 2011, denounces all forms of land grabbing, which it specifically defines as land deals in violation of human rights. HRDs working on land rights, specifically against land grabbing, may suffer human rights violations ranging from arbitrary detention and unauthorized searches to kidnapping and killings.
Many HRDs working for ILC member organisations have unfortunately suffered the most extreme consequences and have been murdered most likely as a result of their activism. For example, three leaders from PAKISAMA, a national peasant confederation from the Philippines, have been killed since 2008: Florita “Nang Flor” Caya (April 27, 2011) Vicente Paglinawan (November 22, 2008) and Ka Rene Peñas (July 5, 2009). Land defenders Mrs. Petrona Moran Suc (72) and Mr. Sebastian Xona (82) from UVOC, an ILC member organisation of indigenous and peasant communities in Guatemala, were found killed in January 2012. From CODECA, likewise a peasant organization of indigenous farmer women and men in Guatemala, human rights defenders Mr. Vidal Nahaman Cabrera Tuch and Mr. Enrique Linares, active members of ILC member were killed in separate incidents in January 2012.
This infonote outlines resources available to HRDs internationally to support their work and international protection mechanisms addressing human rights violations related to land. To produce this infonote, ILC received comments from the office of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, Front Line Defenders, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the Fédération internationale des droits de l'Homme (FIDH), Global Witness, Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP) and Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEAFUEGA).
For more information on ILC's work in support of human rights defenders, please visit http://www.landcoalition.org/global-initiatives/human-rights-defenders