Tag Archives: Colombia

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.

PBI-Colombia at meeting with German ambassador and threatened lawyer Germán Romero

Colombian human rights lawyer Germán Romero Sánchez receives death threat

Demand Protection for Atty. Germán Romero Sánchez

Click to access Provisional-list-Colombian-lawyers.pdf

https://www.icj.org/es/colombia-la-cij-expresa-su-preocupacion-por-las-recientes-amenazas-sufridas-por-el-abogado-de-derechos-humanos-german-romero-sanchez/ (ESPANOL)

https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/no-te-voy-dejar-vivo-toda-la-vida-amenazan-abogado-de-victimas-de-agentes-estatales-articulo-884882 (ESPANOL)

https://www.justiciaypazcolombia.com/contexto-de-persecucion-y-robo-de-informacion-a-representante-de-victimas-el-abogado-german-romero-sanchez-integrante-de-dhcolombia/ (ESPANOL)

Colombia: Revelan primera hipótesis del asesinato de abogada Yamile Guerra, en Santander

21/07/19

Además de ser profesional en derecho, era una líder política y defensora del páramo del Santurbán. Ya se abrió investigación por el crimen.

Yamile Guerra

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.

https://www.pulzo.com/nacion/por-que-asesinaron-abogada-yamile-guerra-santander-PP736377

https://caracol.com.co/emisora/2019/07/21/bucaramanga/1563665806_634232.html

https://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/asesinan-lider-politica-y-abogada-de-santander-yamile-guerra-articulo-872087

https://www.notimerica.com/sociedad/noticia-asesinan-yamile-guerra-abogada-encargaba-litigio-tierras-santander-colombia-20190721195349.html

https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/321750-colombia-matar-disparos-abogada-activista-yamile-guerra

Alrededor de 500 lideres sociales han sido asesinados en los últimos años

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/lawyers-and-judges-on-the-front-lines-of-the-peace-process-in-colombia (ENGLISH)

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Colombia: Award for human rights defenders by PBI UK to Kenyan and Colombian defenders

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.

Award for human rights defenders by PBI UK to Kenyan and Colombian defenders

http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/henry-brooke-awards-for-human-rights-defenders

2018 Sir Henry Brooke Award winner calls for civilian rule in Sudan

https://peacebrigades.org.uk/

https://www.elespectador.com/colombia2020/justicia/jep/el-mayor-meneses-debe-contar-en-la-jep-la-alianza-entre-estado-y-paras-daniel-prado-articulo-857889 (ESPANOL)

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

Colombia: Human rights lawyer Paula Rocero murdered in southern Colombia

May 22, 2019

Image result for Paula Rocero

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.

Human rights lawyer Paula Rocero murdered in southern Colombia

Even a human rights lawyer working for the government in Colombia is not safe

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/human-rights-lawyer-shot-dead-in-colombia-/5070380.article

https://www.contagioradio.com/asesinan-a-paula-rocero-personera-y-defensora-de-dd-hh-en-samaniego-narino/ (ESPANOL)

https://kaosenlared.net/colombia-asesinan-a-paula-rocero-personera-y-defensora-de-ddhh-en-samaniego-narino/ (ESPANOL)

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(L’Observatoire des Avocats Facebook, 26/05/19)

Colombia/UK: Human rights and the rule of law in South America examined

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

https://bit.ly/2vCdd8h

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/foreign-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2017/global-britain-south-america-2-evidence-17-19/

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)