Those who are engaged in human rights defense in the Americas are subject to increasing levels of "intimidation, harassment and attacks," Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Friday. The report, entitled "Transforming pain into hope: Human rights defenders in the Americas," investigated over 300 reports of abuses of human rights workers in the Americas over the past few years. In a statement [press release] announcing the publication of the report, Nancy Tapias-Torrado, Americas Researcher on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders for AI claimed that "human rights defenders are systematically harassed, attacked and subjected to unfounded criminal charges in almost every country in the Americas to prevent them from speaking out for the rights of the most marginalized." The report itself notes specific areas of human rights workers are especially vulnerable to hostility include "people working on human rights related to land, territory and natural resources; the rights of women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people; and migrant's rights."
Claims of human rights abuses are well established in Central and Latin America. In September UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay encouraged Honduras [JURIST report] to respond to increasing violence levied against lawyers. Also in September Pillay urged Venezuela [JURIST report] to remain active in furthering the American Convention on Human Rights. In May Brazil's Truth Commission was sworn in [JURIST report] to investigate abuses under Brazil's military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. Also in May a Guatemala judge ordered a second trial to prosecute former dictator Efrain Rios Montt for ordering a 1982 massacre which killed 201 people. In March Pillay claimed Guatemala is responsible for human rights abuses from that nation's failure to abide [JURIST report] by the peace accord that ended the country's 36-year civil war.