Daniel Prado is a prominent Colombian human rights lawyer. He began his career by providing legal support to the family members of victims of enforced disappearance in the early 1990s and currently works with the Colombian NGO the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP). Among other emblematic cases, Daniel represents victims of paramilitarism in the case of Los Doce Apóstoles (The Twelve Apostles), in which Santiago Uribe, brother of former President and Senator Alvaro Uribe Velez, stands accused of creating paramilitary groups responsible for more than 500 murders. Daniel’s involvement in this and other high-profile cases has seen him exposed to threats, stigmatization and harassment, as well as a public campaign of defamation and slander. Due to the high level of threats against him, in November 2017 the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights passed a sentence extending his protection measures. PBI has accompanied the CIJP since 1994.
On 13 November 2018, Daniel Prado was awarded one of the first ever Henry Brooke Awards for Human Rights Defenders, in recognition of his extraordinary courage and determination in pursuing justice for the oppressed and the marginalised.
On his work and its beneficiaries
My name is Daniel Prado Albarracín and I am a lawyer in defence of human rights. I have done my work first and foremost as a human rights defender, in collaboration with defenders’ organizations such as the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) and the Inter-church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP). In addition to that, I provided professional service to the Association of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared (ASFADDES) several years ago.
The work I do is for people with few economic resources, usually victims of state security agencies, who would not otherwise have the means to access a lawyer. Usually they were victims of people with military political power; they are very vulnerable people. The population groups they come from are diverse, indigenous, displaced, some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. People linked to the conflict, relatives of people linked to the conflict, community leaders who have been persecuted and victims of violent acts such as enforced disappearance, torture or homicide.
On the risks he faces for his work
I believe they want to threaten my life and this could be acted upon at any time because there is no serious policy on the part of the state to ensure the defence and the dignity of human rights defenders. The transcendence and importance of our role as overseers is not understood. If in Colombia there was the possibility that the state would assume the investigations for each one of the human rights violations, we would not be necessary. But the state does not understand and many times it is the one in charge of persecuting us. State agents are used to persecute us, to intercept our telephones, to persecute our relatives, to take photographs of them… this is a state policy that continues today.
The risks in Colombia are unstoppable. I have taken many cases with consequences for a lot of people. Personally I think that at some point something will happen – there is a 90% chance that it will happen because there are many people who are upset with the work that I have done in the defence of Human Rights. There is Alfonso Prados Vega who is spreading words against me, he has a lot of hatred and a lot of power, he is close to Uribe Velez. Uribe as ex-president and senator every so often is naming me, accusing me of things, alleging that I am a guerrilla, faithful lawyer of the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Peto, a number of things that are not true. At any point they could make an attempt on my life.