Speak Out for Defenders

Speak Out for Defenders

Each day women and men raise their voices to defend the land, their territory and the environment. They defend our planet. Thanks to their work you, and future generations, can enjoy breathing pure air and drinking clean water.

Their work is essential, necessary and legitimate.

In the Americas, these defenders are silenced, jailed and killed because of their work and struggle to protect our environment.

Call on governments to recognize, protect and guarantee justice for the defenders of planet Earth. Time is running out, help us to protect them!

Who we are and what we do

Amnesty International is a global movement of over 7 million people who take injustice personally. We are campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

We are funded by members and people like you. We are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. No government is beyond scrutiny. No situation is beyond hope.

Through our detailed research and determined campaigning, we help fight violations and abuses of human rights worldwide. We also help to protect those people who work to defend and promote human rights.

Through petitions, letters and protests, we press worldwide for action from people like you who can make change happen.

We have joined forces with Virk to create this platform. Virk builds civic technology tools that help capture geographic information, analyze it, identify patterns and turn it into data visualizations and stories that trigger action.

Who are human rights defenders?

Human rights defenders are people who, as individuals or in a group, take action to defend, protect or promote human rights in non-violent ways. They can work in different contexts, locally, or at a national or international level.

There are human rights defenders who give their lives to defend and promote environmental and territorial rights and rights linked to access to land. Some of these people are:

  • Indigenous and Afro-descendant people and communities. They want their territory and other rights to be respected, protected and guaranteed. The territory includes their ancestral land and the natural resources found there. For Indigenous and afro-descendent people their culture, way of life and world view is intimately linked to their territory.

  • Campesinos (peasant farmers).They are demanding that their human rights be respected in their individual and collective actions to gain access to land. They fight for access to the land in order to guarantee their right to food; to adequate housing; to health and to work.

  • People and communities demanding respect for and protection of the environment and/or restitution and compensation for environmental damage. They defend the right to a healthy environment.

The platform also includes individuals and organizations who defend territory, land and environmental rights defenders by providing legal, technical, physical, psychosocial or other kinds of support.

What is this platform about?

Defenders all over the world who work to protect and promote the rights to territory, the environment and those linked to access to land are at great risk of being attacked for their activities.

Latin America is the most dangerous region for people working on these issues. In 2015 alone, the NGO Global Witness recorded 185 killings of defenders of the land and the environment around the world, and 122 of these happened in Latin America.

Territory, land and environmental rights defenders are also regularly victims of security incidents such as threats, intimidation or surveillance that are overshadowed because they work in remote areas and are not always recognized as human rights defenders.

They are also regularly stigmatized and referred to as “criminals”, “opponents to development” or “troublemakers”. States often fail to protect these defenders.

We need to make the continuous attacks against territory, land and environmental rights defenders in the region more visible. We also need to hear their voices and stories about the impact these attacks have on their lives. These defenders are not just facts and figures.

What can this platform achieve?

Increase the visibility of territory, land and environmental rights defenders at risk in the Americas and general public awareness of the gravity of this issue through their stories and regional figures about the situation of violence faced by territory, land and environmental rights defenders which can be used by anyone campaigning for these defenders.

Invite people like you and decision-makers to take action to protect defenders!

Security incidents registered on the platform

By security incidents we mean any event that negatively affects or might negatively affect the security of a human rights defender, community or organization and result in harm.

The platform only registers security incidents which Amnesty International has been able to document and for which we have been able to obtain consent to publish.

Surveillance (by individuals monitoring, watching or asking questions, or with equipment)

Intimidation (obvious photos being taken of the defender, their families or friends; obvious monitoring or harassment)

Stigmatization (statements, articles, advertisements, rumours which seek to create stigma or discredit the work or background of the person by state agents, via the media or by influential individuals)

Criminalization (criminal investigations initiated or carried out without evidence as a means of retaliation against the defence of rights; when public prosecution officials or the Public Prosecutor’s Office which opens the investigation has a conflict of interest with the defender; trials carried out without respect for due process or in which the conviction is not based on evidence or is disproportionate to the proven offence)

Attacks on protests (application for authorization or permits which seek to block protests or demonstrations; excessive or undue use of force)

Censorship (impediment to the exercise of freedom of expression and opinion due to legal context, administrative restrictions or sanctions)

Administrative obstacles (obstacles to the registration, functioning or financing of an organization or movement)

Cyber-attacks (any form of physical or digital attack on computers, communications or digital media be it hardware, software or networks)

Economic persecution (actions which seriously violate living conditions as a means of retaliation for activities to defend rights)

Theft (theft of information or belongings in cases where it is possibly a means of retaliation for activities to defend human rights)

Forced entry (entry by third parties, be they authorities or citizens, to a home or office against the occupant’s wishes. We consider searches of homes or offices by the authorities with a court order to be forced entry also)

Arbitrary detention (detention without legal basis, as a means of retaliation for exercising rights, or which does not comply with due process criteria)

Forced eviction (when an individual, family or community who occupy a property or land is removed regardless of ownership held and without complying with international standards)

Threats (verbal or physical indication, directly or indirectly, of the intention to cause harm, suffering or punishment)

Attack (attack intended to harm the physical integrity of a person, including attempted murder)