Colombia: Intrusion into the home of lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez Argüello

en es

10 May 2023. FIDH member organisations in the Americas are outraged by the recent attacks against Soraya Gutiérrez Argüello. The Colombian lawyer represents victims of serious international crimes and she is involved in cases against State security and paramilitary agents. The organisations require the Colombian State to guarantee exercise of the defence of human rights and to investigate this illegal intrusion into the homes of the defence lawyer and her mother.

On 30 April 2023, during the night, two unidentified people entered unlawfully into the home of lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez, in the city of Bogotá. They tried to remove three laptops, two speakers, a photographic camera, and other items, of no value. A private security alarm for the residential complex where the home is situated thwarted the theft making the intruders flee and abandon the stolen items. Each of the rooms in the house was scrutinised, and the personal items of the lawyer, her daughter, Paula Romero, and her husband, Jhon Jairo Gutíerrez, were in disorder and thrown to the floor.

After these events were publicly denounced, on 5 May 2023, several people unlawfully entered the home of the lawyer’s mother, located in the city of Sogamoso, Boyacá. According to the security videos, the method of entry was similar, no valuable items were stolen and the personal effects of Soraya Gutiérrez’s mother were thoroughly gone over.

These acts against the lawyer and her family are evidence that the objectives of this harassment were to extract information and send the message that they could enter her and her family’s private space. That criminal event occurred at a critical time, when the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) ordered protection of the intelligence and counter-intelligence files of the extinct Brigade XX of the Colombian Army, a military until that was involved in serious violations of human rights from its creation in the 1970s to its dissolution in 1998. This decision by the JEP was taken after a petition by lawyer Soraya Gutíerrez and that of her colleague, Yessika Hoyos Morales, a lawyer who also suffered an unlawful intrusion into her home, last year.

These acts against lawyer Soraya Gutíerrez took place days before the JEP judges, Alejandro Ramelli and Hugo Escobar, received death threats. These judges hear judicial proceedings against soldiers arising from extrajudicial executions committed against the civil population, a macro-case in which the CAJAR is also acting in representation of victims. These attacks against victim representatives and judges are aimed at creating a climate of fear among those who bring their cases to the JEP.

Lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez is vice-president of the “José Alvear Restrepo” Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR), a member organisation of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT). During her professional career, she has represented victims of serious crimes attributable to security forces of the Colombian State. At the present time, she is the spokesperson of the Colombia Europe United States Coordination (CCEEU) and a delegate for the Colombian human rights platforms at the National Security Guarantees Commission, an agency entrusted with formulating a public policy for the dismantling of the groups that succeeded paramilitarism and their support networks. Specifically, this attack occurs at the time when lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez is working on a project within this agency on the dismantling of paramilitarism.

The Colombian authorities are obliged to protect the life, physical and psychological safety and personal privacy of lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez and her family. They must also guarantee full exercise of the defence of human rights in Colombia. To this end, it is necessary for the attacks against defenders to cease and for these attacks to be investigated and punished properly by the competent judges.

This attack against Soraya Gutiérrez is not the first. Throughout her career, she has been the victim of attacks against her life and personal safety, acts of psychological torture and acts of harassment that have involved security agents of the Colombian State, some of these found criminally liable. Others and other members of the CAJAR have also suffered several attacks since the organisation’s foundation. For this reason, in 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights passed precautionary measures in their favour. And, since 2020, a court case is being heard before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights because of these attacks.

Read more

  • Co-signatories

    Acción Ecológica, Ecuador
    Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos de Bolivia (APDHB), Bolivia
    Asociación Pro derechos Humanos (Aprodeh), Peru
    Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), USA
    Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA), USA
    Centro de Derechos y Desarrollo (CEDAL), Peru
    Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Cels), Argentina
    Centro Nicaragüense de los Derechos Humanos (Cenidh), Nicaragua
    Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (Ciprodeh), Honduras
    Centro de Capacitación Social (CCS), Panama
    Colectivo de abogados y abogadas, José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR), Colombia
    Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador (CDHES), El Salvador
    Comisión Ecuménica de Derechos Humanos (Cedhu), Ecuador
    Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH), Mexico
    Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CNDH-RD), Dominican Republic
    Comité de Acción Jurídica (CAJ), Argentina
    Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), Honduras
    Corporación de Promoción y Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (Codepu), Chile
    International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
    Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos (Inredh), Ecuador
    IDHEAS, Litigio Estratégico en Derechos Humanos, Mexico
    Instituto Latinoamericano para una Sociedad y un derecho Alternativo (ILSA), Colombia
    Justiça Global, Brazil
    Liga Mexicana por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (Limeddh), Mexico
    Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos, Brazil
    Observatorio Ciudadano, Chile
    Organización Femenina Popular (OFP), Colombia
    Perú Equidad, Peru
    Programa Venezolano de Educación Acción en Derechos Humanos (Provea), Venezuela

  • Member organisations - Colombia
    vignette contact
    vignette contact
    vignette contact

Take action