Colombia: death threats against human rights defenders

Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about death threats directed at various human rights defenders and public figures, including the members of the Collective of Lawyers José Alvear Restrepo (Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo - CCAJAR) Ms. Yessica Hoyos and Ms. Soraya Gutiérrez, who is also Vice president of FIDH, as well as Mr. Diego Martínez, Executive Secretary of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos - CPDH), and Mr. Jeison Paba, member of the same organisation and of the National Movement of the Victims of State Crimes (Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado - MOVICE).

According to the information received, on July 4, 2012, MOVICE received via email a death threat declaring Ms. Soraya Gutiérrez, Ms. Yessica Hoyos, Mr. Diego Martínez and Mr. Jeison Paba, as well as nine other people, as military objectives, together with their respective photographs and saying:

“13 guerrilleros camouflaged of human rights defenders, 13 military objectives. Our army has clear instructions to take down these bastards who want to take the land from good citizens to give it to guerrilleros like them. Be warned and be informed that we have fully identified your schemes, and those who are also [sic] shitty guerrillas, who with the excuse of being human rights defenders are trying through all types of arbitrariness to dispossess the real owners of their lands so that these end up in the hands of a bunch of bastard, [sic] guerrilleros”.

The warning is also directed at Messrs. Iván Cepeda, founder of MOVICE, Juan Díaz Chamorro and Pedro Geney, members of MOVICE, Franklin Castañeda, President of the Foundation Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (Fundación del Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos - FCSPP), José Humberto Torres, member of the same foundation, Mss. Gloria Cuartas, member of Colombians for Peace, Aida Quilcué, principal Advisor of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca - CRIC), Lilia Solano, President of the Proyecto Justicia y Vida, as well as former Senator Piedad Córdoba.

The Observatory categorically condemns this new threat against a large group of human rights defenders and requests an immediate, independent, exhaustive and impartial investigation into this case, in order to identify those responsible, take them to a competent, independent, fair and impartial court and apply them the criminal and/or administrative sanctions required by law.

The Observatory notes that, as pointed out in the Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders after her mission in Colombia in 2009, these threats generate a climate of terror among the community of human rights defenders, which in turn hinders their legitimate work of defending human rights. The Observatory has received information from the We Are Defenders Programme (Somos Defensores) in Colombia about the assassination of 49 human rights defenders and 7 enforced disappearances in 2011. In the course of the year 2012, 16 assassinations of human rights defenders have been registered, most of them being linked to the demand for restitution of lands.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Colombia to:

i. Adopt immediately the most appropriate measures to guarantee the life, the security and the physical and psychological integrity of the members of the persons threatened;

ii. Carry out an independent, immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the threats in order to identify those responsible, take them to a competent, independent, fair and impartial court and apply them the criminal and/or administrative sanctions required by law.

iii. Put an end to any kind of aggression, threats, harassment and violence against the organisations and human rights defenders in Colombia;

iv. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and its article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Colombia.


His Excellency, Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia, Carrera 8 # 7-26, Nariño Palace, Santa Fe de Bogotá. Fax: + 57 1 596 0631

Mr. Angelino Garzón, Vice President of the Republic of Colombia, Tel.: +57 1 334 4507, +573772 0130. E-mail:

Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Ombudsman, Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá. Fax: + 571 640 0491 E-mail:

Mr. Germán Vargas Lleras, Minister of Interior and Justice, Carrera 8 No. 13-31 4th Floor Tel.: +571 444 3100 Ext. 1810 Fax: +57 1 560 4630 Email:

Dr. María Paulina Riveros Dueñas, Director, Human Rights Programme of the Ministry of Interior. E-mail:

Mr. Eduardo Montealegre Lynett, Fiscal General, Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá. Fax: +571 570 2000; +571 414 9000 Extension 1113, E-mail:

Dr. Alejandro Ordoñez Maldonado, Attorney General, Cra. 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá. Fax: +571 342 9723; +571 284 7949 Fax: +571 342 9723; E-mail:;
Mr. Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, Minister of Defence, Avenida El Dorado con Carrera 52 CAN, Bogotá. Fax: +571 222 1874; E-mail:

Her Excellency Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos, Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations in Geneva, Chemin du Champ d’Anier, 17-19, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland Fax: +41 22 791 0787 E-mail:;

His Excellency Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, Diplomatic Mission of Colombia in Brussels, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 96a, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 646 5491

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Colombia in your respective countries.

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