UN Special Rapporteur: Who Will Protect Human Rights Defenders?

Whether it’s the San Francisco Peaks or the Belo Monte Dam Project, the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, says the environmental defenders rights should be accounted for around the world according to a press release by the United Nations.

Sekaggya, says she has heard of the abuses and violence these environmental defenders have faced in countries around the world at the hands of government forces, non-State actors, such as corporations, and members of organized crime or terrorist groups.

In her latest report she calls for swift action by States to “give full recognition to the important work carried out by defenders” and to “combat impunity for attacks and violations against these defenders… by ensuring prompt and impartial investigations into allegations and appropriate redress and reparation to victims,” the release says.

The release goes on to quote Sekaggya as saying that these defenders are often working to protect communities whose “access to, and enjoyment of, their ancestral land, water and resources, which are an essential part of their identity and the basis of their livelihood, has not been recognized.” In some cases “communities have been poisoned and their environment polluted as a dramatic consequence of these economic and development activities.”

Sekaggya made sure to stress a balance needs to be struck between economic development and the rights of local and indigenous communities.

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