AIDA calls on governments to maintain democratic rule of law
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15 April 2020
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we demand that Latin American governments refrain from approving projects that damage the environment and violate human rights, and that they maintain special protections for environmental defenders.
In the context of the global emergency unleashed by COVID-19, the Interamerican Association for the Environmental Defense (AIDA) urges Latin American States to comply with their obligations to protect the environment and uphold human rights.
Governments must refrain from advancing projects that setback established protections through harmful regulatory changes or the approval of projects without adequate social and environmental impact assessments.
We also express our worry at the lack of conditions to ensure the rights to participation and access to information for people affected by high-risk projects and public policy decisions.
In particular, we regret the decision of the Colombian government to conduct virtual prior consultations with ethnic communities, and the determination of the provincial government of Mendoza, Argentina, to use online means to realize consultations on development projects. While we believe that social distancing is essential to dealing with the pandemic, it is not the appropriate means of realizing the rights to participation and access to information.
AIDA thus calls on States of the region to suspend the approval of environmental and other official permits for sensitive projects unrelated to the response to the health crisis, until such time as the above-mentioned rights can be adequately guaranteed. This implies taking into account that the necessary conditions do not currently exist for people affected by projects to defend themselves in court.
We also emphasize that, in the face of the pandemic, actions must be framed within the path recommended by science and the law to confront the climate crisis, seeking a just transition, respectful of human rights, towards a more resilient and sustainable way of life, based on clean energy and not fossil fuels.
We express our solidarity with all people affected by COVID-19. We underscore the urgency of guaranteeing and respecting their rights in the midst of the crisis, particularly for those in vulnerable conditions, including indigenous peoples, migrants, women, and environmental defenders, among others.
In this regard, we demand that governments of the region maintain democratic rule of law and the special protection of environmental defenders. And we ask that international organisms closely monitor the human rights situation on the continent.