The surge in violence against Latin America's activists has only served to reinforce opposition movements across the continent, a new report from Amnesty International concludes.
World Day of Social Justice
The analysis, entitled 'The State of the World's Human Rights,' reviewed the events of last year and the current state of human rights in 159 countries.
The international rights group denounced the level of violence in Latin America, specifically against Colombian activists and social leaders, which local governments have failed to control.
"A year on from Colombia's historic peace agreement, violence was still a daily part of life, and an estimated 60,000 people were forcibly displaced due to armed conflict in 2017 alone, according to official numbers," the report states.
Almost 170 social leaders were murdered in Colombia in 2017, according to the Institute of Studies for Peace Development (Indepaz), a non-governmental organization.
"State failures to safeguard human rights have created the conditions for others to commit further abuses, putting the lives of millions of people at risk," the Amnesty report continues.
"Defending human rights has been criminalized across the region, with journalists, human rights defenders and marginalized communities often violently repressed for speaking truth to power."
Amnesty International says impunity and violence have spurred Latin Americans into action, with communities organizing 60 marches to combat crimes against women last year alone. Other Latin Americans have adopted age-old movements, providing the support needed to enact change.
Researchers detailed a number of accomplishments, including the recent elimination of Chile's ban on abortion and Mexico's new legislation helping search teams find victims of forced disappearances.
"Last year proved that, however disenfranchised people were, they refused to resign themselves to a future without human rights," said Amnesty's North American Director Erika Guevara Rosas.
"Emerging social discontent inspired people to take to the streets, stand up for their rights and demand an end to repression, marginalization and injustice.
"The fight is not over. We're making history, as people rise up and demand justice in greater numbers – and the onus is now on governments around the world to show that they are listening."
The report also analyzes administrations outside Latin America, describing U.S. President Donald Trump's actions as a step backwards in human rights, which set a dangerous precedent for governments around the world.
North American Amnesty International Executive Director Margaret Huang denounced Trump's behavior: "As President Trump takes actions that violate human rights at home and abroad, activists from across the country remind us that the fight for universal human rights has always been waged and won by people in their communities."
Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, concluded by saying: "There is a palpable sense that protest movements are on the rise globally. If governments stand against such movements, they will erode their legitimacy."