Development and Peace partners defend human rights at IACHR

Several of Development and Peace’s partners are currently at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington D.C. to bear witness to the ongoing violence and abuses suffered by the communities they work alongside.

This is the 156th period of sessions of the IACHR, which was established by the Organization of American States (OAS) as a mechanism to promote and protect human rights in the Americas, particularly amongst groups that are vulnerable and that traditionally face discrimination. The commission examines complaints and petitions on specific human rights violations and publishes reports on its findings that can be used to further seek justice.

From Brazil, the Indigenous Missionary Council of the Brazilian Church (CIMI) participated in the hearing Reports of Violence against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, which was held on Tuesday, October 20th. The CIMI-MS works with indigenous groups in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where communities are being violently pushed off their land to make way for large-scale agricultural projects. The communities are being criminalized for defending their land, and the CIMI itself is being accused of instigating violence, despite the fact that in the past 12 years, 390 community members have been killed in land conflicts. The CIMI is currently calling on the Brazilian government to launch a public enquiry into the murderous actions that are being taken against the Guarani Kaiowá and Terena people.

Our partner Justiça nos Trilhos (JnT) also testified in this hearing. The group works particularly with communities affected by a railway managed by Brazilian-owned mining giant Vale in the states of Pará and Maranhão in the Amazonian region of Brazil. The Carajás railway is highly contentious, as its main purpose is to transport minerals mined from Vale operations in the region. The railway and Carajas mining project have displaced millions of people, many of whom now face mass pollution and deforestation from the railway. In the more than 30 years since mining operation began, these communities have not seen any investment in their region from the profits derived from the exploitation of the natural resources on their land.

Justiça nos Trilhos (JnT) also participated in the hearing Human Rights Situation of Defenders of the Environment in the Context of Extractive Industries in America, which took place on Monday, and included our Honduran partner The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH).  This hearing highlighted the increasing violence and security threats faced by environmental defenders throughout Latin America. 

From Colombia, our partner Justicia y Paz participated in the hearings Situation of Human Rights Defenders Who Advocate for Land Restitution in Colombia and Human Rights and Legal Reforms With Regard to Security Forces in Colombia and our partner the National Conference of Afro-Colombian Organizations (CNOA) presented in the hearing Reports of Discrimination Against People of African Descent in Colombia.

Our Honduran partner Fundación ERIC, which supports community radio stations and human rights programming in Honduras, took part in the hearing Human Rights and the Interception of Persons Eligible for International Protection and in the Friday afternoon hearing Human Rights and Water in America, which also had testimony from the Honduran Center of Promotion for Community Development (CEHPRODEC) and the National Committee in Defense of Territories Confronted by Mining from Brazil.

We applaud our partners in their courageous and relentless efforts to defend the most poor and marginalized and to give voice to the human rights violations they are experiencing.

To learn more about the hearings, visit http://www.oas.org/iachr.