Press release / Aug. 9, 2017

Global Witness calls on Argentine government and Benetton to find environment defender Santiago Maldonado

Following recent reports of missing Argentinian Santiago Maldonado, Global Witness adds its voice to the calls to find the activist who was last seen taking part in a blockade protesting ongoing land rights issues between the indigenous community group Pu Lof En Resistencia and fashion company Benetton.  

The Guardian reports that Maldonado went missing on Tuesday 1 August, after he was reportedly arrested by border police while blocking a road with other protesters, in the southern province of Chubut.

After a public statement from a UN committee urging the government to act swiftly, Argentina's Security Ministry offered a $27,000 reward for information on Maldonado's location. 

Billy Kyte, Global Witness campaigner said: “In the years that Global Witness has been publishing its annual reports into the status of environmental defenders’ safety and security, it has become clear that, globally, governments and business are failing in their duty to protect activists at risk. They are permitting a level of impunity that allows the vast majority of perpetrators to walk free, emboldening would-be assassins. We urge the Argentinian government to ensure it does not follow this same path. We also call on  Benetton to investigate the events that took place on their land and encourage a process of peaceful dialogue to resolve the outstanding land rights issues.”

Our recent report, Defenders of the Earth, shows that five of the top 10 deadliest countries to be an environmental defender in 2016 were Latin American, a grim accolade and an upwards trend that we hope not to see reflected in Argentina.  

Murder is the sharp end of a range of tactics used to silence defenders, including death threats, arrests, sexual assault, abductions and aggressive legal attacks.

/ ENDS

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