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2 Oct 2019

Submitted in connection with the hearing “Misuse of Criminal Justice Systems to Retaliate Against Environmental Human Rights Defenders” at the 173d Period of Sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Report details threats, attacks and the misuse of the criminal justice system against environmental defenders

“Report on the Misuse of Criminal Justice Systems to Retaliate Against Environmental Defenders”, 21st September 2019

…Defending the environment is dangerous. Every day, environmental defenders are harassed, threatened, and attacked as reprisal for their work promoting and defending human rights relating to territory, water, air, land, flora, and fauna…Environmental defenders are falsely accused of crimes, detained arbitrarily, and subjected to lengthy criminal proceedings plagued with irregularities and due process violations, with the goal of hindering the defenders’ work and limiting the civic space available for the defense of the Planet. This report describes the criminalization of environmental defenders, including the most common forms of criminalization and their particular vulnerability, as a group, to this type of retaliation…

Because of their work, environmental defenders are targeted by a range of stakeholders who view environmental defenders as obstacles to conducting their business. Powerful corporate actors...increasingly use a sophisticated tactic of criminalization to impede environmental protection efforts.

The misuse of criminal justice systems to retaliate against environmental defenders threatens their lives and generates a chilling effect that limits the ability of all human rights defenders to defend their communities and protect the environment. It enables polluters to gain leverage over environmental defenders and to avoid unwanted attention, regulation, and environmental enforcement…