Colombia: “Concern for attack on Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide

Urgent Appeal
en es

Bogota D.C., May 18, 2012

Señor Juan Manuel Santos Calderón
Presidente de la República

Palacio de Nariño, Edificio Administrativo
Calle 7 No.6-54, Piso 1
Bogotá D.C. – Colombia
Fax: +57 1 3375890

Sr. Eduardo Montealegre Lynett
Fiscal General de la Nación

Dg. 22B No. 52-01 Edf. C Piso 5
Bogotá D.C. - Colombia
Fax: +57 1 4149000 ext. 2396

Sr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz
Defensor del Pueblo

Calle 55 Nº 10 – 32
Bogotá D.C. – Colombia
Tel: +57 1 314 73 00

Re: “Concern for attack on Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide”

Dear Colombian authorities,

On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the historic decision that decriminalized abortion in Colombia, threats have escalated against human rights activist Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide where she works as Director of Programs. On the evening of May 7, 2012, at approximately 6:30 PM an unidentified person fired shots at the Women’s Link Worldwide office in Bogota where Monica and two of her colleagues were working. The bullet broke the office window security glass above Monica’s head. Fortunately, no one was injured.

Monica Roa is a widely known human rights defender who, with Women´s Link Worldwide, filed a lawsuit before the Colombian Constitutional Court six years ago that ended the total abortion ban in Colombia by recognizing abortion as a fundamental right in three circumstances. Since such time she has had bodyguard protection (provided by the Ministry of Justice) as a result of numerous threats directed at her through social media, faxes and phone calls with such warnings as “we will put you in heaven”. During this time Women’s Link Worldwide offices also faced a series of break-ins where their computers were stolen. There is no information at this time about the perpetrators of this crime. The authorities have been contacted but have yet to instigate an investigation into the attack.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. This scare tactic comes at a time when the work to implement the right to abortion in Colombia is under fierce attack. Just two months ago on March 1, Women’s Link learned that a criminal complaint had been filed against Monica by one of the country’s highest officials, Ilva Miriam Hoyos, Deputy Procuradora. To date, the complaint has not been made public.

Subsequently, the intimidation continued. On April 24, yet another computer was stolen through a window from the Women’s Link Worldwide Bogota office. This week’s violent attack on the office reveals a pattern of intimidation and presents fear of escalating danger for Monica Roa and her colleagues.

The undersigned women’s rights and human rights organizations condemn these actions and are gravely concerned for the physical security and well-being of Monica Roa and all Women’s Link Worldwide staff. We demand an end to the ongoing harassment and threats against Women’s Link Worldwide and all reproductive rights defenders in Colombia.

The undersigned call on the Colombian authorities to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the events that took place at Women’s Link Worldwide offices in Bogota on the evening of May 7, 2012, with a view to publishing the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international human rights standards;

2. Make public the criminal complaint filed against Monica Roa so she is able to respond to the allegations against her and exercise her right to a legal defense;

3. Take measures to ensure that government officials or other public figures refrain from further stigmatizing the legitimate work of women human rights defenders in Colombia and, in particular, Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide;

4. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical security and well-being of Monica Roa and all staff at Women’s Link Worldwide;

5. Take all appropriate measures to ensure reproductive rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions; this should include, at a minimum: passing protective legislation, conducting human rights trainings for those charged with the administration of justice, and promoting human rights education about the important role of women human rights defenders generally and defenders of sexual and reproductive rights in particular.

Thanks for your consideration,

Organizational Sign-ons
1 Centro de Derechos Reproductivos
2 ADIOS - Associazione italiana done per lo sviluppo Via dei Giubbonari, Italia
3 AMMOR-Federación Nacional, México
4 Amnesty International
5 Apoyo desde Argentina
6 APROFA – Chile
7 Articulación Feminista Marcosur (AFM), Uruguay
8 Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Regional/Malaysia
9 Asociación de Especialistas Universitarias en estudios de la Mujer, Argentina
10 Asociación de Mujeres Mejorando el Orizonte Regional, A.C (AMMOR, A.C), México
12 ASTRA Youth Network and the Federation for Women and Family Planning, Polonia
14 Balance Promoción para el Desarrollo y Juventud, México
15 Caribbean Development Activists and Women’s Network (C-DAWN)
16 Catholics for Choice – USA
17 Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - Chile
18 Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - Colombia
19 Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - Bolivia
21 Center for Constitutional Rights, USA
22 Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, UC Hastings College of the Law, USA
23 Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), USA
24 Center for Women’s Global Leadership
25 Centro de Educación y Prevención del VIH/Sida AC. CEPVIDA, México
26 Centro de Estudios de Estado y Sociedad (CEDES), Argentina
27 Centro de Promoción y Defensa por los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos (PROMSEX), Perú
28 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program, Hampshire College, USA
29 CLADEM Brasil
30, CLAE Consorcio Latinoamericano de Anticoncepción de Emergencia, Latino América
31 Coalición Nicaragüense por los Derechos Sexuales y Derechos Reproductivos (CNDSDR), Nicaragua
32 Colectiva por el Derecho a Decidir Costa Rica
33 Colectivo Con-spirando, Chile
34 Comissao de Cidadania e Reprodução
35 Comité contra el Feminicidio en Morelos COCOFEM, México
36 Commissioner to the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, Tailandia
37 Consorcio Latinoamericano Contra el Aborto Inseguro (CLACAI), Latino América
38 Corporación Humanas – Colombia
39 Corporación Sisma Mujer, España
40 Cotidiano Mujer, Uruguay
41 CreSer para un desarrollo integral, A.C., México
42 Cuenta Conmigo Diversidad Sexual Incluyente A.C., México
43 dance4life, Holanda
44 Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Secretaría con sede en las Filipinas
45 Ddeser - Red por los derechos sexuales y reproductivos en México, México
46 De La Calle Londoño López & Posada, Colombia
47 Front Line Defenders
48 Egypt Member Association IPPF, Egipto
49 El Grupo Multidisciplinario por la Defensa de los Derechos Sexuales y Reproductivos en Guatemala
50 ELA - Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género, Argentina
51 Equidad de Género, Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia - México
52 Federación Latinoamericana de Sociedades de Obstetrícia y Ginecologia (FLASOG), Latino América
53 Foro de Mujeres y Políticas de Población - México
54 Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), Tailandia
55 Fundacion Desafio, Ecuador
56 Fundación Oriéntame, Colombia
57 Gestos+HIV, Communication and Gender
58 Global Doctors For Choice/Brasil
59 Grupo Curumim, Brasil
60 ICMER, Chile
61 Coordinadora de la Mujer – Bolivia
62 INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
63 Iniciativa Global para la Equidad la Justicia y la Ecología A.C., México
64 Integrante de los Diálogos Feministas en Bolivia
65 International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
66 International Planned Parenthood Federation
67 International Women’s Health Coalition
68 Ipas, USA
69 Ipas - Brazil
71 Irish Family Planning Association, Irlanda
72 Kalyanamitra Foundation-Indonesia
73 La Fundación Si Mujer, Colombia
74 La Red Chilena contra la Violencia Doméstica y Sexual, Chile
75 Las Hijas Predilectas de la Negrita
76 L’Association Algérienne pour la Planification Familiale (AAPF), Algeria
77 Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights
79 Marie Stopes International Bolivia
80 National alliance of women human right defenders Nepal (NAWHRD), Nepal
81 Network for Glocal Activism/School of Feminism for glocal activists
82 Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT)
83 O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
85 Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA), Palestina
86 Peace Foundation Pakistan, Pakistán
87 People for Peace and Defence of Rights (PPDR Uganda)
88 Planned Parenthood Federation of America, USA
89 Population Matters
90 PROFAMILIA Colombia
91 Red de Salud de las Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe (RSMLAC), Chile
92 Red Latinoamericana de Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir, Latino América
93 Red Par, Periodistas de Argentina en Red por una Comunicación no Sexista
94 Red por los derechos sexuales y reproductivos en Morelos Ddeser-Morelos, México
95 Rutgers WPF, Netherlands, Holanda
96 SAMSARA, Indonesia
97 SFPA-Sudan, Sudan
98 SI Mujer Nicaragua
99 SOS Jeunesse et Enfacne en Detresse
100 Tanzania Network of women living with HIV and AIDS
101 The Family Planning Association of Trinidad and Tobago
102 Tunis Member Association IPPF
103 Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, Chile
104 Universidad Diego Portales College of Law, Chile
105 Universidade Federal de São Paulo, campus Baixada Santista, Brasil
106 Women for Women’s Human Rights, Turquía
107 Women´s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
108 Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC), Australia
109 Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
110 Women’s Human Rights Defenders International Coalition
111 Women’s Promotion Centre, Tanzania
112 Youth Intercommunity Network, Kenya
113 YP Foundation, India
114 Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir - México
115 Sexuality Policy Watch, Brasil

Individual Sign-ons

1 Antonio Barreto, Colombia
2 Brian Concannon Jr., Esq., Haití
3 Carol Bradford, Inglaterra
4 Catalina Ruiz,
5 Claudia Florentin, Argentina
6 Hannah Surowitz
7 Johana Román Castañeda, México
8 Julissa Mantilla Falcon
9 Laura Davis Mattar, Brasil
10 Leticia Canseco Rincón, México
11 Mabel Bianco, Argentina
12 Maria Isabel Matamala Vivaldi, Chile
13 María Paulina Mogollón
14 Mariana Carbajal Periodista, Argentina
15 Marlene Fried, USA
16 Marta Raquel Zabaleta
17 Meena Jagannath, Haití
18 Mindy Jane Roseman, J.D., Ph.D., USA
19 Nadia Maciel Paulino, México
20 Sarah Diehl, Alemania
21 Soledad Acevedo Arenas, Chile
22 Sylvia Estrada Claudio, MD, PhD
23 Wanda Nowicka, Polonia
24 María Consuelo Mejía

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