What happens when every other recourse you have to seek justice in your own country fails you? If you are in the Americas, you turn to the Inter-American System of Human Rights (IAS). The IAS is the last hope for justice for millions of people in the Americas. But, now what has come to be the last resort for millions of victims in their quest for justice is under threat by a number of governments that are seeking to weaken the IAS. The human rights activists, victims of violence and victims’ advocates with whom we work in Latin America every day need us to declare our support for the IAS. Otherwise, what other independent institution will be able to demand accountability in countries where justice fails?
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court have put governments on notice that they need to provide protection measures for human rights defenders under threat. These institutions have told governments that they must hold military and police officers accountable for gross abuses. These powers should not be weakened.
To cite just a few ways in which the Inter-American system has been a force for good, since 2009 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has issued a series of rulings that Mexico’s system of sending military abuses to military courts has denied access to justice and reparations for victims of human rights violations and ordered Mexico to try soldiers in civilian courts—setting in motion gradual changes in the right direction. In Colombia, the IACHR focused attention on the killings of civilians by the Colombian army, while in Honduras, the IACHR shed a spotlight on human rights abuses since the 2009 coup. In countries across the Americas, the IACHR has called for protection for freedom of expression, and has acted to protect the rights of indigenous communities, women, and members of the LGBT community.
Don’t let time run out sign by end of day on Friday, December 7th!
As part of this cross-continent citizen’s initiative many notable human rights defenders like Javier Sicilia, poet and leader of Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, Colombian senator and victims’ advocate Iván Cepeda, Nicaraguan songwriter Luis Enrique Mejia Godoy, Guatemalan human rights defender Helen Mack, and Honduran radio station director Father Ismael Moreno have already signed on. Past Latin American presidents have also joined the fray. As part of a long-standing coalition, we are proud to join a number of other groups fighting to prevent impunity and increase the access to justice in the Americas by supporting the Inter-American System. Now the only person left is you. Please join us by signing the petition below.
What will victims of violence and human rights defenders do if this last resort is taken away from them? Who will they turn to next?