Tag Archives: Colombia
Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Country File: The use of justice as a persecution mechanism (EN/ES/FR)
Colombia/Day of the Endangered Lawyer: Death Threats Against a Member of CAJAR and the Father of a Victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo
On the afternoon of June 11, 2021, following the hearings scheduled to provide testimony on the case of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, which took place over a two-week period within the preliminary proceedings for the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), Yessika Hoyos Morales, member of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), received the following two text messages :
“Motherfucking Guerrilla Fighter Asking ‘Bout Things That Don’t Matter to You That’s Why We Got More Gas to Burn You Like We Did Your Dead Son That’s What’s Waiting For You You Old Motherfucking Snitch”
“Keep Snitching And You’ll End Up Dead ‘Cause You’re Defending Guerrilla Fighters”
Mr. Alfonso Mora León, the father of Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, a victim of the Massacre of Mondoñedo, who is represented by Yessika Hoyos Morales, also received these same text messages. Mr. Mora, who in the past has been the target of harassment and other serious threats, took part in the victims delegations participating in the meetings held in Havana, Cuba, as part of the peace dialogues with the former guerrilla group FARC-EP. Likewise, he has been a tireless advocate for truth, justice, peace and guarantees for the non-repetition of such horrific acts as those subjected upon his son.
The massacre of Mondoñedo, which was perpetrated by members of the national police (DIJIN) on September 6 and 7 of 1996, resulted in the deaths of the university students Vladimir Zambrano, Arquímedes Moreno, Jenner Alfonso Mora Moncaleano, and Juan Carlos Palacio Gómez. On September 7, 1996, the students’ bodies were found in the city dump in the town of Mondoñedo, located on the Hacienda “Fute”, near the road from Mosquera to Soacha. Martín Alonso Valdivieso and Federico Quesada, who were from the districts of Fontibón and Kennedy in Bogotá, were also murdered.
Allegedly through the use of witnesses, a unit from the DIJIN had previously identified these students as members of the Antonio Nariño urban network of the FARC guerrilla group. In 1995, this guerrilla unit set off an explosive device in the police station located in the district of Kennedy, Bogotá, which resulted in the death of three members of the police. This police unit took matters into their own hands and murdered the students and incinerated their bodies to evade their recognition. It is for that reason the threat stated they would “burn” him like they did his son.
On February 22nd, Sebastián Escobar Uribe, lawyer, member of CAJAR, representative of Díaz Chamorro family – who were recognised as victims before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) – was threatened in a phone call.
Sebastián Escobar Uribe is one of the CAJAR lawyers who participated in the documentation of extrajudicial executions known publicly as “false positives”. Crimes that have been qualified by judicial operators as crimes against humanity committed by members of the security forces. As a lawyer, in addition to the presentation of reports, he also brought action before the International Criminal Court regarding the preliminary examination of Colombia, which, among others, focuses on this type of crimes.
Sebastián Escobar Uribe received a short call (33 seconds) on his mobile phone, in which a man threatened to kill both him and Juan David Díaz Chamorro. The latter is the son of Edualdo Díaz Salgado, mayor of El Roble (Sucre), who was assassinated on 10 April 2003.
Sebastián Escobar Uribe believes this threat is related to the recent actions he carried out on behalf of the Díaz Chamorro family before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). These proceedings came after the voluntary submission, as a third party, of the former governor of Sucre, Salvador Arana Sus. Whom had already been convicted in 2009 by the Supreme Court of Justice for the murder of the mayor of El Roble (Sucre).
On 11 February 2021, Juan David Díaz Chamorro was recognised as a victim, by the Legal Definitions Chamber of the JEP, after submitting his application in search of truth and justice.
The 11th Day of the Endangered Lawyer which will be marked tomorrow, (22 January) focuses on Azerbaijan this year.
Protests and seminars will be organised in solidarity with human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan.
The Day of the Endangered lawyer is normally commemorated each year on 24 January, which falls on Sunday this year.
Protests organised by local lawyer associations are planned worldwide outside embassies and consulates of the Republic of Azerbaijan, in compliance with public health guidelines.
A petition supported by international, European and national lawyers‘ organizations will be presented to the respective embassies and sent to the Azerbaijan government.
Protests outside Azerbaijani embassies will be organised in Berlin and Rome and in Ankara and other Turkish cities.
A seminar at 2pm today, organised by the Law Society of England and Wales, will be supported by Lawyers for Lawyers, DAV DeutscherAnwaltVerein, ELDH – the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights.
The independence and safety of lawyers are increasingly threatened around the world. Lawyers in too many countries are vilified, criminalized, imprisoned, threatened, attacked, or murdered simply for doing their lawful work of upholding their clients’ rights. In 2020, volunteers from Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) are monitoring the situations of lawyers and other human rights defenders (defenders) in dozens of countries.
Countries of major concern to LRWC in 2020 are China, Turkey, the Philippines, Colombia, and Saudi Arabia. This year, LRWC volunteers have raised concerns about lawyers and defenders in these and other countries, including at the UN Human Rights Council. LRWC is also monitoring situations of lawyers in many other countries, including challenges to international human rights in North America.
LRWC increasingly engages with the UN human rights system through its UN consultative status received in 2005. LRWC also publishes numerous reports and manuals, including a 2020 book, Attacking Defenders: The Criminalization of Human Rights Advocacy. LRWC, a volunteer-run organization, is launching a drive for memberships of Canadian lawyers to secure independent financial support for LRWC’s work to meet the growing demand for LRWC experience developed over two decades.
INDEPENDENCE AND SAFETY OF LAWYERS UNDER THREAT: EXAMPLES
China: Lawyers and defenders arrested, disappeared, and tortured
China claims to uphold the “rule of law,” but its aggressive promotion of “human rights with Chinese characteristics” fails to conceal egregious and systematic human rights abuses, including surveillance, harassment, criminalization, enforced disappearance, unlawful detention, and torture of dissidents, ethnic and religious minorities, activists, and lawyers. The litany of violations includes disturbing allegations of mass atrocities.
Colombia/Germany: PBI-Colombia at meeting with German ambassador and threatened lawyer Germán Romero
October 17, 2019
On October 16, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted, “Thank you very much to [German ambassador Peter Ptassek] and [the German embassy in Colombia] for their support for the work of human rights defenders in Colombia and the work of the victims’ representatives in this difficult context.”
This followed the German ambassador’s tweet that said, “Don’t touch my friend: We act in the protection of fair cause fighters. In this case we support the great work of Germán Romero for more rule of law and defence of victims. That their protection is not symbolic against threats. Thank you [Network of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia] for your visit.”
On October 10, PBI-Colombia also tweeted, “Many thanks to the Embassy [of Norway in Colombia] for its support for human rights defenders of dhColombia with Germán Romero who receives death threats for defending victims of extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.”
El Espectador has explained that Romero, who represents victims of state agents, received a death threat on October 3 via his landline telephone and that his computer (with sensitive information about his cases) was stolen previous to that.
The same number has called Romero’s landline twice sent then, but they are silent when the telephone is answered.
That article also notes that Romero represents those affected by the Palace of Justice case, the construction of the Hidroituango hydroelectric dam as well as journalist Claudia Julieta Duque (who is accompanied by PBI-Colombia).
You can read more in our article Colombian human rights lawyer Germán Romero Sánchez receives death threat.
Además de ser profesional en derecho, era una líder política y defensora del páramo del Santurbán. Ya se abrió investigación por el crimen.
El asesinato de esta mujer es tendencia este domingo en redes sociales. El crimen tuvo lugar este sábado en el barrio Mirador de la Hacienda, municipio de Floridablanca.
Yamile recibió dos disparos que le produjeron la muerte. Según RCN Radio, una de las primeras hipótesis sobre el hecho apuntan a que el crimen se podría relacionar con un litigio de tierras que se realiza en ese municipio de Santander.
“Eso fue por ese pleito de tierras en la hacienda Zapamanga, la hacienda de su padre, quien también fue víctima de la violencia”, aseguró Gerardo Martínez, amigo de la víctima citado por RCN Radio.
Semana, por su parte, exalta que Yamile Guerra era reconocida por su labor política en ese departamento. Se había desempeñado como directora de la Casa de Santander en Bogotá y ahora litigaba en un caso de invasión de urbanizadores piratas en el barrio Zapamanga, de ese mismo municipio.
Más detalles sobre el crimen los dio a conocer el secretario del Interior de Floridablanca, Ricardo Arciniegas, y dan cuenta que la víctima tuvo una cita con dos hombres en un predio cercano a Zapamangas y dar inicio a conversaciones para llegar a un acuerdo en ese mismo proceso.
June 23, 2019
Kenyan social justice activist Naomi Barasa and Colombian human rights lawyer Daniel Prado have won the first annual Henry Brooke Awards for Human Rights Defenders, created in 2018 by PBI UK and pro bono legal network the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk.
These awards are in honour of the life and legacy of Sir Henry Brooke – barrister at Fountain Court Chambers, founder of the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk and patron of PBI UK – who passed away in January 2018. They are presented annually to defenders who encapsulate the qualities Sir Henry most admired and reflected in his own life: selflessness, courage, and commitment to seeking justice for the oppressed and the marginalised. The award winners were selected by a panel of leading figures from the UK legal and human rights communities.
Daniel Prado was selected as an example of a lawyer who has defied huge personal risk in order to pursue justice for the victims of human rights violations, oppose impunity and defend the rights of marginalised communities against powerful interests. 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 death threats, harassment and a public campaign of defamation and slander. Speaking of his work, he has said: “The risks in Colombia are unstoppable. I have taken many cases that have had consequences for a lot of people… we live in a constant state of anxiety about what can happen to us.”
May 22, 2019
A human rights lawyer was murdered in southern Colombia on Monday. Paula Rocero was shot several times by motorcyclists as she was driving home in Samaniego, department of Nariño. The 47-year-old was transported to hospital but died shortly afterwards.
Paula had been given protection measures in 2016 after receiving threats over her work in defence of human rights and targeting corruption in Samaniego. She was employed by the civil government in Nariño and provided representation to communities in the region.
The United Nations Human Rights office in Colombia denounced the killing. ‘We trust there will be prompt investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible. Our solidarity with her family, friends and institutions in these sad moments’, it tweeted.
Nariño has been heavily impacted by targeted killings of activists and community leaders since the peace agreement was signed in November 2016. The region has historically had high presence of armed groups due to the minimal state presence and its geographical value for illicit activity.
(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 26/05/19)
April 29, 2019
On 30 April 2019, the Law Society’s international human rights adviser, Dr. Marina Brilman, gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on the rule of law and human rights in South America. The Law Society submitted written evidence in November 2018. The main subjects addressed in the session were:
- Regional challenges to the Inter-American system of human rights by PROSUR member states and lack of financing
- The rise in attacks against lawyers and human rights defenders in Colombia, especially after the signing of the peace agreemen