In Paraguay and Peru, authorities are cooking up a ‘recipe’ of tactical, oppressive moves to criminalise people fighting to protect their water sources and land. Known as Territory, Land and Environmental Rights Defenders, these people are up against powerful state authorities and businesses that want to exploit these territories and make money from these natural resources. The authorities want to stop them from defending the environment.
The recipe that the authorities use has three core ingredients:
1. Firstly, the authorities prepare their smear campaign. They publish statements, articles, advertisements which stigmatise or discredit the work or background of defenders. They stir up rumours, and then watch the public mistrust of the defenders rise.2. Next, they turn up the heat by adding several forced evictions. They remove the defenders from their homes and the land they live on – they want them to feel lost and ready to give up.3. Finally, they’re now ready to criminalise the defenders. They open ‘investigations’ against the leaders. They prosecute them without evidence and serve lengthy legal ‘punishments’.
This recipe is hard to digest.
“I have had 60 legal proceedings opened against me. What they seek… is to generate fear, immobilize us so that we don’t continue defending our rights. We have to spend a lot of time defending ourselves, looking for a lawyer. It is a great concern for our families. We can not access any work because they see us as radical, extremists. The press defames us and the people verbally attack us on the street.” Milton Sánchez, Defender of Peru
However, there is hope. Recently the governments of Latin America agreed to protect these defenders. But this will only happen if they make this agreement officially valid, by ratifying the LAC 10 treaty in September 2018.
You can help. Sign the petition – call on the Presidents of Peru and Paraguay to ratify the LAC 10 treaty and protect these environmental rights defenders.
This petition is key, together with our in person advocacy. The Presidents of Peru and Paraguay will listen if we mobilise from across the world, and these defenders will feel your solidarity. Your signature could help to ensure that human rights defenders in those two countries are provided with the security and protection they need to protect our planet.