May 10, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the murder of lawyer Jhon Fredy Concha Valbuena and the attempted murder of lawyer Jorge Enrique Belalcázar Gutierrez in Colombia.
It has come to the Law Society’s attention that on January 24, 2017, criminal lawyer Jhon Fredy Concha Valbuena was shot dead by sicarios (hired assassins) outside his home in the city of Cali. Reports indicate that at the time of his death, Jhon Fredy Concha Valbuena was representing three individuals accused of kidnapping twelve congressmen (eleven of whom later died) in 2002. The accused are members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (“FARC”), Colombia’s largest rebel group. Additionally, just prior to his death, Jhon Fredy Concha Valbuena had successfully defended and secured the freedom of a group of people accused of illegal mining in the Cauca River.
On February 1, 2017, criminal lawyer Jorge Enrique Belalcázar Gutierrez was shot in the shoulder by a sicario while driving his vehicle in the San Nicolás neighbourhood of the city of Cali. According to reports, Jorge Enrique Belalcázar Gutierrez had previously been denied protection by Colombia’s National Protection Unit.
The Law Society of Upper Canada is deeply concerned about the mounting violence against lawyers in Colombia and urges the Government of Colombia to comply with Colombia’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.