May 27, 2018
In April 2018 Colombian human rights lawyer Luis Guillermo Pérez visited Europe in order to submit evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the killings on human rights defenders in Colombia. 2017, the first full year since the signing of the peace agreement in Colombia, was the deadliest on record for human rights defenders, with 121 killed, compared with 60 killings in 2016. The communication argues that the ICC should open an investigation because the Colombian government is failing to investigate the crimes properly and constitute a crime against humanity. In London Luis Guillermo was able to present the ICC communication to different sectors (including members of the Alliance for lawyers at Risk, FCO officials and parliamentarians) and to raise awareness of the situation for human rights defenders in Colombia.
“Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. Violent repression of trade unionists, land rights and environmental activists, community leaders, lawyers, LGBTI activists, journalists and others who stand up for rights is widespread and systematic.” – ICC Dossier from CAJAR and The ECCHR.
Luis Guillermo Pérez Casas is a lawyer with the Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR), based in Bogotá. For over 30 years, the work of CAJAR’s lawyers has resulted in landmark decisions that have improved access to justice for many victims of the country’s long-running conflict. They have faced many serious threats for this work, including the assassination of their founder Eduardo Umaña Mendoza and being publically identified as “military targets” by death squads. PBI has accompanied the collective since 1995; monitoring the security situation of the lawyers and thanks to PBI’s international networks, members of CCAJAR have been able to raise their security concerns in front of a wide range of stakeholders.