Latin America is, by far, the most dangerous region of the world for environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs). The lack of effective guarantees of human rights protection in Latin American States has created this dire situation. The absence of effective safeguards is worsened by the weak rule of law in most Latin American countries, by worrying trends of impunity that corrode the fabric of society, and by the fact that environmental movements usually concern major development projects involving powerful governmental and corporate interests.
This report illustrates the severe human rights violations in Latin America against environmental defenders, who engage in lawful activities that bring to light environmental damage and human rights abuses. Though not exhaustive, this report provides an overview of recent incidents throughout Latin America. The incidents cited cover a range of human rights violations, including violent attacks, torture, disappearances, and killings.
This report explores, in turn, the various human rights currently denied to EHRDs in Latin America. It first assesses how the Inter-American human rights mechanisms respond to human rights violations against environmental defenders. Next, the report explains the special situation of indigenous peoples in Latin America, focusing on their particular vulnerability to human rights violations. The report then discusses how the rights to life and physical integrity are not being ensured for EHRDs. These rights are violated by persistent threats of killings, violent attacks, forced disappearances, and other crimes. The report then explores how Latin American States fail to protect the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention by often criminalising and stigmatising the lawful activities of EHRDs.