Hate Speech: A New Strategy Against Human Rights Defenders
If hate speech is the weapon in a psychological war to criminalise human rights, its trigger has been pulled more than once, according to the Guatemalan human rights defender and 1992 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Helen Mack Chang. She came to Geneva earlier this month to share her experiences with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) at the 31st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In this month’s exclusive Voices of Right Livelihood podcast, Mack Chang voiced her concerns regarding theincreasing use of hate speech against human rights defenders in Central America, citing slain Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres as the latest addition to a long list of victims, including journalists, legal professionals, and other civil society actors, who have raised their voices against human rights violations and suffered the consequences.
Nevertheless, Guatemala’s example can bring hope in putting an end to the culture of impunity in the region. With the support of Helen Mack Chang and the Myrna Mack Foundation, the CICIG has engaged in a fight against all manner of impunity, proving itself a useful tool for any society facing political transition from authoritarian to democratic rule. Born out of a grassroots movement following the 1996 Guatemalan peace agreement, the Commission has enhanced the rule of law across the nation and the quality of its judiciary system. It has granted independent court verdicts, proving that even the worst forms of corruption and organised crime can be exposed and defeated. However slow the pace, Guatemala is moving towards a future of accountability and justice.