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Americas: Stale politics must give way to decisive human rights action

    June 24, 2019

    Leaders in the Americas must move beyond stale political debate and strengthen their focus and commitment to human rights protections, said Amnesty International in an open letter to the heads of state attending the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States in Medellin, Colombia.

    “The leaders of the Americas must step up and overcome the grave challenges facing the region. This is the most dangerous place in the world for human rights defenders, particularly those standing for climate justice and the environment, and it is also the scene of two major global human rights crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    Last year, 241 people were killed for standing up for human rights in the Americas, more than two thirds of the global total. At the same time, more than 300 people were killed and over 700 people faced criminal charges for protesting in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, in Venezuela, the deepening human rights crisis has driven more than 4 million people to leave their country, and just this year nearly 1,000 people have been arrested and scores killed during protests, while many more have faced ill treatment and torture for taking to the streets to demand change.

    “With so much at stake in the Americas, states must make clear and specific commitments to protect human rights defenders, including by swiftly ratifying the Escazú Agreement. They must also strengthen their demands for truth, justice and reparations for all the victims of the grave human rights crises in Nicaragua and Venezuela, as well as ensuring that effective protective measures are in place for those fleeing Venezuela, and that humanitarian aid reaches those still in the country,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

    Amnesty International is also calling on states to respect the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American Human Rights System, ahead of the appointment of four new Human Rights Commissioners during the General Assembly.

    This comes after five states from the region issued a statement in April with recommendations for “strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System”, which was largely rejected as an attempt to weaken the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

    “If states are serious about confronting the harsh realities facing the Americas, then they must shift their approach from stale political debate and alarming efforts to weaken the Inter-American Human Rights System towards decisive action in favour of the human rights of everyone in the region,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

    An Amnesty International delegation will be present during the 49th General Assembly of the Organization of American States and spokespeople will be available for interviews.

    For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada, 613-744-7667 x 236; LScholey@amnesty.ca

    Read more:

    Open letter to American states in the context of the XLIX General Assembly of the OAS (Letter, 24 June 2019)

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr01/0407/2019/en/

    Americas: Open letter to the heads of state of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay (Letter, 6 May 2019)

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr01/0294/2019/en/