On the fifth anniversary of the death of Berta Caceres, we imagine a future for human rights defenders that is dignified and hopeful.
Imagine being a flower, that there are roots that keep you grounded, that you have beautiful orange petals and a strong green stem where water flows. Without sunshine and rain, you would not be able to grow. Now imagine that there is a permanent rainless cloud that stands over you. You are not living as you should, you are surviving. Human right defenders in many countries are flowers surviving under that rainless cloud of threats.
Today marks 5 years since the death of environmentalist Berta Caceres. Her death was the last drop that inspired the process of the Esperanza Protocol. Berta Caceres received 33 death threats before she was killed, so have many of our colleagues and continue to.
Human rights defenders play a key role to make sure that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is upheld by governments, as well as providing us key information on right infringement, they work for the rights of all people.
As the protocol states “These efforts may be individual, but are often collective, in processes involving communities, organizations, networks and movements. “
“Whilst this attempts to protect the physical impact of threats, it ignores the invisible weight that a life of threats carries”
Why do we focus on threats?
Historically and globally, threats have been used to intimidate HRDs, their families, communities or allies, and are directed to inhibiting individual and collective action. Threats interfere with the right to defend rights, and also may affect the rights to life, security, integrity, dignity and privacy.
Whilst there is much impunity when States do act, they often focus on physical security protection measures, such as bodyguards or emergency mobile phones. Accountability and rehabilitation are rarely prioritized.
These trends ignore the invisible weight that a life of threats carries: the emotional, psychological, social, and financial impacts on the targets and their families, as well as the collective dimensions of these risks and their impacts.
The Protocol imagines a future where human right defenders live a dignified life and wants to create expanding examples for future generations, who will see that fighting for rights is dignified and soulful work.
The Esperanza Protocol aims to raise awareness of the need for the criminal investigation of threats and provides a space to reevaluate the costs of threats and impunity, as well as guidelines. The Protocol imagines a future where human right defenders live a dignified life and wants to create expanding examples for future generations, who will see that fighting for rights is dignified and soulful work.
How can you take action?
If there is one thing that the pandemic has shown many, is how it feels to live with a constant threat and an uncertain future. This year more than ever many of us can empathise with human right defenders. You can take action by supporting the NGO COPINH, working to seek justice for Berta Caceres and continuing her work. You can find more information here. You can also stay up to date with the protocol by following us on social media Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #Hope4Defenders.
Escrito por: Virginia Vigliar https://www.virginiavigliar.com/