Tag Archives: Colombia

Colombia/UK: International lawyers observe “12 Apostles” trial of Santiago Uribe Vélez

April 11, 2019

Representatives from the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the Colombian Caravana (UK) have returned to Medellin to continue observing the trial of Santiago Uribe Vélez, the brother of former President and current Senator, Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Santiago Uribe is accused of heading a paramilitary group in North Antioquia during the early 1990s that became known as the “12 Apostles”.  He also is charged with the murder of bus driver, Camilo Barrientos Durán, in 1994.  During its existence, the 12 Apostles sought to carry out what many have referred to as ‘social cleansing’ – eliminating those considered ‘undesirable’ to the group such as sex workers and drug addicts. In addition, the group targeted members and supporters of guerrilla groups. The group is considered to be responsible for over 500 murders and disappearances during this period.

International observation missions were organised following evidence of threats and intimidation to lawyers and witnesses in the case. Daniel Prado, lawyer to the victims of the case, has been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Medida cautelar N° 261-16 of 20 November 2017), which stated that “the rights to life and personal integrity of Mr. Daniel Ernesto Prado Albarracín are at grave risk.” We understand that, although the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección) provided him with a car as a security measure, it does not have reinforced windows which means that it does not provide adequate protection.

The mission has been informed about serious attempts having been made to undermine the work of the prosecution. It is reported that in November 2017 a plan was uncovered to murder Olwan de Jésus Agudelo Betancurt, one of the witnesses in the case.

https://preview.mailerlite.com/b1t2k6/1131637732708192920/z6w9/

https://www.abcolombia.org.uk/case-los-doce-apostoles-human-rights-lawyer-at-risk/

https://peacebrigades.org.uk/daniel-prado-colombia

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/law-society-expresses-grave-concerns-regarding-human-rights-violations-against-members-of-legal-profession-886341166.html

http://www.colombiancaravana.org.uk/trial-observation-12-apostles-case-press-release-nota-de-prensa/

http://www.advocates.org.uk/news-and-responses/news/2018/dec/faculty-observer-at-twelve-apostles-trial-in-colombia

http://www.lawyersatrisk.org/

https://www.fidh.org/es/temas/defensores-de-derechos-humanos/colombia-campana-de-ataques-intimidacion-y-amenazas-en-contra-del-sr (ESPANOL)

https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Ameriques/Daniel-Prado-justice-paix-2018-12-05-1200987560 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.newswire.ca/fr/news-releases/le-barreau-tres-preoccupe-par-les-violations-des-droits-de-la-personne-a-l-encontre-de-membres-de-la-profession-juridique-845161362.html (FRANCAIS)

Colombia: Guest blog: Julia Lowis on human rights in Colombia

April 4, 2019

International delegation heads to Colombia to observe the trial of Santiago Uribe Velez in the “12 Apostles” case

An international delegation of lawyers comprising the Colombia Caravana (UK), the Bar Human Rights Committee (England & Wales) and supported by the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk is in Colombia this week to observe final hearings in the case of ‘Los Doce Apostoles’.  The main defendant is Santiago Uribe Velez, brother of former President and current Senator Alvaro Uribe Velez, who stands accused of co-founding the paramilitary group ‘Los Doce Apostoles’ and for the murder of bus driver Camilo Barrientos Duran, allegedly murdered by the group in 1994 in Antioquia.

The victims are represented by Daniel Prado Albarracin, a Colombian human rights lawyer who has represented families of enforced disappearance since the early 1990s.  Despite the adoption of the Colombian peace accord in November 2016,’in Colombia, being a human rights defender is a high-risk occupation’: since 2016 there has been an increase in the killings of human rights defenders, to an estimated rate of one in every three days.  These risks are particularly prevalent in the case of lawyers like Prado who seek justice for victims of the armed conflict and fight to pierce the culture of impunity which has surrounded systematic human rights violations for decades.

Colombia is bound by the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the ICCPR and the ACHR, all of which impose obligations on the State to protect defenders from violations of their rights to physical integrity and private life in the exercise of their professional functions.

https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media-centre/bar-blog/contributing-writers/2019/april/guest-blog-julia-lowis-on-human-rights-in-colombia/?dm_i=4CGD%2CJ88B%2C4THRXM%2C28A6O%2C1&fbclid=IwAR0VzDCS_h6xt2y4WK9pLLUFlP00tyXw6CwHLG7O_5B1bHnSxqg4r5FRM1Q

Colombia: Report Caravana mission 2018

March 26, 2019

Report Caravana mission 2018

The International Caravana of Jurists travelled to Colombia at the beginning of September 2018, to ascertain the impact that the peace process has had on the work of human rights lawyers and the dynamics of the conflict. A report of the mission is now available.

 

Since 2008, the Caravana has organised six international biannual delegations to Colombia in fact-finding missions to monitor the situation of human rights defenders, specifically on access to justice and respect for the rule of law.

The Sixth delegation of the International Caravana of Jurists visited Colombia shortly after the inauguration of President Iván Duque. At a time when the peace process hangs in the balance and violence escalating dramatically across Colombia, the delegation met with lawyers and judges working both within and outside state institutions and heard directly from victims and activists about the situations of risk which they face.

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement in November 2016, hundreds of human rights defenders have been killed and the UN has called for decisive action to stem the tide of violence enveloping many regions. Colombian’s official state Ombudsman has reported that a human rights defender is killed every three days.

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/report-caravana-mission-2018/

http://www.colombiancaravana.org.uk/colombia-seeking-justice-building-peace-post-conflict-illusion-report-sixth-international-caravana-jurist/

https://fliphtml5.com/asev/akvj

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Colombia: Protective Measures for Human Rights Lawyer Adil Meléndez | Letter

March 14, 2019

Pablo Elías González Monguí
Director, Unidad Nacional de Protección
Carrera 63 # 14 – 97
Puente Aranda
Bogotá D.C. 111611
Colombia

Dear Mr González Monguí

Re: Protective measures for human rights lawyer Adil Meléndez

I write on behalf of the Colombian Caravana (hereafter the ‘Caravana’), a UK registered charity that co-organises the International Caravana of Jurists, and the Foundation of the Spanish National Bar Association, the International Observatory of Lawyers, Lawyers for Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.

During biennial visits to Colombia since 2008, including during the International Caravana of Jurists most recent visit in September 2018, we have called upon the Colombian government to protect the ability of lawyers and human rights defenders to represent their clients, and to refrain from any interferences in their work, in order to comply with both Colombian and international law.

The aforementioned organisations are concerned that in December 2018 Adil Melendez’s bullet proof car was withdrawn by the National Protection Unit (UNP) and instead he was provided with a standard car. Mr Melendez had been provided with an armoured car in recognition of the acute risk he faces as a human rights lawyer; we understand that this acute risk has not diminished.

We were further alarmed when Mr Melendez informed us that one of his two bodyguards, also assigned to him by the UNP, has not provided protection to him since 25 February 2019, when both bodyguards failed to arrive for work. We are informed that the other bodyguard has resumed his work only in the last few days. In effect, for over a week, Mr Melendez has been left without the protection measures granted to him by the UNP and can currently rely on one bodyguard only.

The Caravana works closely with Mr Melendez and has met with him on several occasions, including during our last visit to Colombia, in September 2018. His work is vital to advancing justice and protecting human rights in Colombia, particularly in the Caribbean region. It is understood that he is targeted and threatened as result of his work.

https://www.lrwc.org/colombia-protective-measures-for-human-rights-lawyer-adil-melendez-letter/?fbclid=IwAR3CpMWOrYQBy9kwPkDEwt1B5G3L_FZOyPfQI_M3KUNKshIArKlHcW_W79Q

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/lawyers/adil-jose-melendez-marquez/

https://www.elheraldo.co/atlantico/jorge-luis-alfonso-lopez-se-reune-con-victimas-en-la-carcel-de-sabanalarga-573998 (ESPANOL)

Colombia: Daniel Prado, Colombia

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.

https://peacebrigades.org.uk/daniel-prado-colombia

https://pbicolombiablog.org/2018/08/02/daniel-prado-lamentablemente-recibir-amenazas-hace-parte-de-nuestro-compromiso-con-la-vida-y-la-dignidad-de-nuestro-pais/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elsaltodiario.com/colombia/daniel-prado-paramilitares-llegaron-tener-presidente-colombia-uribe-12-apostoles (ESPANOL)

Colombia: Joint Letter issued to the Colombian President concering threats made to the lawyer Daniel Prado

December 4, 2018

Daniel Prado: “Unfortunately in our country receiving threats goes hand in hand with a commitment to life and dignity”

The Law Society of England & Wales, Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Lawyers for Lawyers, the Bar Council of England & Wales, and the Bar Human Rights Committee express their concern about serious threats made against the lawyer Daniel Prado in Colombia

 

Mr. Prado represents victims of atrocities committed by a paramilitary group. See on the right side of this page the letter in English and Spanish.

 

http://communities.lawsociety.org.uk/international/joint-letter-issued-to-the-colombian-president-concering-threats-made-to-the-lawyer-daniel-prado/5066508.fullarticle

https://pbicolombia.org/2018/08/09/daniel-prado-unfortunately-in-our-country-receiving-threats-goes-hand-in-hand-with-a-commitment-to-life-and-dignity/#more-8506

https://lawyersforlawyers.org/en/joint-letter-on-behalf-of-lawyer-daniel-prado/

https://pbicolombia.org/tag/daniel-prado/

Colombia: Atentan contra la vida de abogada de la Defensoría del Pueblo, en Barranquilla

09/11/18

En la mañana de este viernes en el barrio El Lucero. Fue herida en el rostro con arma de fuego.

A las 6:40 de la mañana de este viernes fue atacada a bala la abogada de la Defensoría del Pueblo, Dignoris Pérez Niño, de 40 años, cuando salía de su residencia, ubicada en la calle 52 con carrera 31, barrio Lucero de Barranquilla.

Según la información de las autoridades, la abogada fue atacada por un sujeto a pie que sin mediar palabra le disparó ocasionándole un herida en el pómulo izquierdo con orificio de salida por la oreja del mismo lado.

La mujer fue llevada rápidamente a la Clínica La Merced, donde a esta hora recibe atención médica.

La Policía investiga el atentado y trata de establecer si guarda relación con su profesión.

https://www.publimetro.co/co/barranquilla/2018/11/09/atentan-la-vida-abogada-la-defensoria-del-pueblo-barranquilla.html

https://www.elheraldo.co/judicial/abogada-de-la-defensoria-iba-para-audiencia-y-resulta-baleada-564056

https://canal1.com.co/noticias/fiscalia-y-policia-investigan-atentado-a-defensora-de-derechos-humanos-en-barranquilla/

https://www.bluradio.com/barranquilla/atentan-contra-una-defensora-publica-en-barranquilla-196264-ie2020922

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(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 20/11/18)