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11 Sep 2018

Jim Loughran, HRD Memorial project / Front Line Defenders (Ireland)

Collusion & co-optation of legal systems by organised crime & corporate interests among main drivers of killings of defenders, says head of HRD Memorial project

"I ran away but she sat there... Then they smiled and shot her', 11 Sep 2018

Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala,Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines. More than 80% of the human rights defenders (HRDs) killed globally over the last four years were murdered in these countries. The vast majority of the cases have never been properly investigated, and few perpetrators have been brought to justice. In 2016, Front Line Defenders launched the HRD Memorial to document the cases of the estimated 3,500 HRDs who have been killed since the United Nations Declaration on HRDs came into effect 20 years ago. This research has provided the basis for a new report, Stop the Killings, which identifies the root causes of the violence common to all six countries: the power of entrenched elites who are resistant to change; legal systems co-opted by organised crime and corporate interests; the collusion of the State and/or its agents but above all a fundamental lack of political will to address the issue... I travelled to Guatemala as part of an international delegation, organised by the International Land Coalition, in response to a call for help from local communities under siege by large landowners, mining firms and hydro-electric companies who want to control the land and the water. In Guatemala, 74% of the land is owned by 6% of the people... Since January 2018, 19 HRDs have been killed in Guatemala...