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Latin America among most dangerous regions for human rights defenders: report

Associated Press/Jorge Saenz

Latin America is among the most dangerous regions for human rights defenders, according to a special report released by the nonprofit Freedom House on Wednesday.

The group found in 2020 more than three-quarters of human rights defenders (HRDs) killed around the world were in Latin America. 

The organization defines HRDs as social justice leaders, artists and those advocating for human rights and equal opportunities.

In Latin America, HRDs have been facing more harassment, intimidation, attacks and legislation banning their work in recent years, according to Freedom House. 

The group said the pandemic has also given countries opportunities to enact “authoritarian measures under the guise of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions, to inhibit movement, curtail freedoms of expression and assembly, and implement militarized security policies.”

Conditions have been deteriorating particularly fast in some Latin American countries, with the report focusing on Venezuela and Nicaragua. 

Venezuela has the second-largest external displacement crisis, with more than 5.6 million people fleeing the country, with a third of migrants going to Colombia. More than 100,000 Nicaraguans have left their country due to human rights abuses, migrating to Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama.

Freedom House says Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have no government protections for HRDs. 

In general, HRDs in Latin American countries do not receive “emergency funds, physical security support, psychosocial and psycho-emotional support, medical assistance, digital security installation, support and training, legal advice and assistance for criminalization,” Freedom House said. 

Tags Human rights defender Latin America Nicaragua Nicaraguans Protection International Venezuela

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