Guatemala: Ronald David Barillas, environmental & human rights defender working on impacts of sugar and mining, killed

Ronald David Barilla, a member of the Xinka indigenous parliament and a well-known leader of the community, was killed on 9th of January in Santa Rosa, Guatemala, by unknown people. Ronald’s work stressed the environmental impact of the sugar agroindustry. He had also on occasion worked with the Committee for the Defence of Nature (CODIDENA), which opposes the El Escobal mining project (San Rafael Mine, of Tahoe Resources), and had denounced the lack of free, prior and informed consultation with communities living near the mine. Amnesty International demands an urgent, independent and impartial investigation of the crime.

Tahoe Resources sent the statement below on Barillas’ death to Business & Human Rights Resource Center.

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Company response
17 January 2018

Tahoe Resources response

Author: Tahoe Resources

“MSR condemns any threats or violent actions against communities, citizens and human rights advocates” 16 of January 2018

…We have…heard Mr. Ronal David Barillas Díaz was a well-known activist on matters in the departments of Escuintla, Santa Rosa and Jutiapa but not in relation with mining industry. MSR condemns all forms of violence, threats to human wellbeing, or intimidation in the strongest possible terms and we call for a thorough and independent investigation of any acts of violence within and amongst the communities of the Department of Santa Rosa and beyond. As an open, transparent and law abiding Company, we will cooperate with authorities as requested. We are committed to the search for truth, strengthening the rule of law, and the fight against impunity in Guatemala…We recognize human rights activists are particularly vulnerable to violence and persecution. We denounce any attempts by others to threaten, frighten, or attack members of community activism groups or human rights organizations… We work with all stakeholders to peacefully and respectfully address any concerns. To that end, we invite all stakeholders to communicate their concerns, questions, and suggestions regarding the operations of MSR…

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Article
16 January 2018

Guatemala: The killing of another community leader underscores the urgent need for a policy for the protection of human rights defenders

Author: Amnesty International

Ronal David Barillas Díaz, a community leader and human rights defender was killed on the morning of 9 January in Taxisco, Santa Rosa, Guatemala…Ronal David Barillas Díaz, was an Indigenous Xinka leader, a member of the Xinka parliament and a member of the Committee of Communities Affected by the Sugar Industry… an association that brings together more than 70 communities in the departments of Escuintla, Santa Rosa and Jutiapa. He had highlighted the environmental impact of the activities of the sugar agroindustry in his region and had on occasion worked with the Committee for the Defence of Nature (CODIDENA), which opposes the El Escobal mining project (San Rafael Mine), and had denounced the lack of free, prior and informed consultation with communities living near the mine…The investigation must establish whether he was killed as a reprisal for his work defending human rights. If it should fail to do so, the authorities would be sending a message that attacks against human rights defenders are tolerated and those responsible will not face any consequences…

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