A protester speaks through a megaphone as smoke from coloured smoke bombs billows near people taking part in the annual May Day rally in Strasbourg, eastern France, on May 1, 2019.

Europe/Americas: EU-CELAC summit must prioritize human rights

Member states of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) must urgently address the serious human rights issues facing their continents, Amnesty International said today in an open letter to the leaders due to attend the summit between both regional bodies in Brussels on 17 and 18 July.

The leaders in attendance must urgently address the most pressing human rights issues facing both continents today, including human rights defenders and civil society space; the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and to peaceful protest; the human rights of refugees and migrants; violence and discrimination against women and girls; and the defense of human rights gains and the international human rights system. Any outcomes and commitments from the summit must publicly outline strategic and concrete steps to ensure that human rights remain at the heart of EU-LAC relations and are mainstreamed throughout all areas of relations, from trade to digital and climate change, up to the highest level. 

The leaders in the region must work with their European counterparts to find solutions and uphold human rights and justice for all.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

“This is a critical time for Latin America and the Caribbean, with its multiple and complex human rights challenges. Millions have been forced to flee human rights crises and environmental disasters in their home countries in search of international protection. The region is the most dangerous place in the world for human rights defenders. Yet, instead of trying to solve these problems, many states have chosen to repress protests and militarize their borders and security policies. This summit provides an opportunity for meaningful change. The leaders in the region must work with their European counterparts to find solutions and uphold human rights and justice for all,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“We hope that EU leaders will use this summit to raise concerns about human rights with their counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean. But they also need to look inwards and tackle rights violations at home, including violence against people seeking safety at EU borders and increasing limitations on independent organisations working for civil rights. This summit offers EU leaders a chance to recommit to rights, and we hope that they will grab it,” said Eve Geddie, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.

At a time of sustained, worldwide pushback on human rights and a widening crackdown on those who defend them, Amnesty International calls on Latin American & Caribbean and EU states to jointly champion universal human rights in both regions and across the globe.