Colombia
14.05.19
Urgent Interventions

International statement condemning attacks and threats against Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders


Brussels,13 May 2019

The Europeanorganisations and networks who have signed this statement reject the murderattempt against leaders from Afro-Colombian collectives from the Caucadepartment ACONC, PCN and ASOM and threats against the indigenous women’sorganisation Wayúu Women’s Strength (Fuerzade Mujeres Wayúu), from the Guajira department.

On 5 May,leaders from the Association of Community Councils of Northern Cauca (Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios delNorte del Cauca - ACONC), the Black Communities Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras -PCN) and the Association of Women of African Descent from Northern Cauca (Asociación de mujeres afrodescendientesdel Norte del Cauca- ASOM), were the victims of an attempted murder and massacre whenguns and a grenade were fired in the village of Lomitas, in the municipality ofSantander de Quilichao, Cauca department. The leaders of these Afro-Colombiansocial and grassroots organisations were attending a meeting to preparedialogues with the Colombian Government related to the agreements with theIndigenous Demonstration, known as theMinga. In the attack several leaders were affected, including Francia Márquez (Goldman Award Winner,2018), Víctor Hugo Moreno, Carlos Rosero, Clemencia Carabalí and Sofia Garzón,resulting in two men from the protection mechanisms being wounded.Subsequently, Mr. Moreno received an anonymous death threat on his phone inwhich he was informed that “whathappened on Saturday is just the beginning, and it will end with theextermination of you all”.

Additionally, on29 April and 9 May, several pamphlets were circulated, signed by theself-styled paramilitary group ÁguilasNegras - Bloque Capital D.C. and including threats and defamatoryaccusations against the indigenous women’s organisation Wayúu Women’s Strength(Fuerza de Mujeres Wayúu)and six of its members: Karmen Ramírez, Miguel Ramírez, Deris Paz, Luis MisaelSocarras, Dulcy Cotes and Jakeline Romero. The Wayúu organisation carries outwork in defence of land and the environment in relation to the mining companyEl Cerrejón, in the department of La Guajira.

Jakeline Romero,director of the organisation, has reported threats against her to theauthorities since 2000, but the state response and protection measures havebeen insufficient to ensure the full protection of Ms. Romero and others fromthe organisation. In the last two years, Ms. Romero has participated indifferent European speaking tours including numerous meetings with Europeaninstitutions, ministries of foreign affairs and a public event in the EuropeanParliament.

It is of concern that killings and attacks against defenders and socialleaders in the regions continue, without an adequate or sufficient responsefrom the Colombian State, and that these particular attacks involve two humanrights and environmental defenders with significant international recognitionand support. Far from contributing to the construction of a sustainable andlasting peace, these events aim to silence the social movement, from thegrassroots level to those with greater visibility and leadership at thenational and international level.

It is also worrying that the attack took placein the middle of a preparatory meeting for dialogue with the government’sdialogue in the context of the MingaNacional countrywide protests, during which smear campaigns andacts of defamation were promoted against the protest and its members. Socialand human rights organisations have warned about the risk that these smearcampaigns generate for people who participate in social protest activities.

These events aretaking place in the context of an increase in violence and killings in Colombiaagainst people who report human rights violations in Colombian regions. Accordingto Colombian NGO the We Are Defenders Program (Programa Somos Defensores), 2018 was the mostviolent year for human rights defenders since the organisation started itsregister in 2009, with 805 acts of aggression, including 155 killings. The OHCHR2018 annual report highlights in particular the vulnerability of indigenous andAfro-descendant leaders and of those who defend territorial and environmentalrights. It should be noted that, in addition, the percentage of attacks againstwomen defenders increased by 63.7% in 2018. The majority of these attacksremain in impunity while the Comprehensive Program of Guarantees for WomenLeaders and Human Rights Defenders (ProgramaIntegral de Garantías para las Mujeres Lideresas y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos),agreed between women’s organisations and the previous government, has not beenimplemented.

The measuresforeseen in the Peace Agreement for the dismantling of paramilitary successorgroups, such as the National Commission for Security Guarantees, the SpecialUnit in the Prosecutor’s Office, the Early Warning System and the Elite PoliceCorps, have not been implemented or only partially, or do not have enoughpolitical and financial support from the current government.

In light of thisserious human rights crisis, the signatory organisations ask the internationalcommunity to urge the Colombian authorities to:

1. Guarantee physical andpsychological integrity and provide effective and comprehensive guarantees ofindividual and collective security for all the leaders and members of theorganisations ACONC, ASOM, PCN and Fuerzade Mujeres Wayúu, as well as for all people who work for peace andco-existence in the country.

2. Carry out immediately a thoroughand impartial investigation into the attacks and threats to clarify the facts,identify not only the material authors - last weak one presumably materialauthor was captured by authorities, but also the intellectual authors responsible,and bring them to justice.

3. Prioritise work to dismantle thecriminal structures that are behind these attacks and threats, especiallyparamilitary successor groups, responsible for the majority of attacks.

4. Resume dialogue with human rightsorganisations as part of the National Guarantees Process, for the constructionof a protection policy with a differential approach, including progress made inthis process with previous governments, and to move forward the investigationsinto threats against and killings of human rights defenders.

5. Make progress inimplementing collective protection measures and protection measures for humanrights defenders in rural areas, as included in the Peace Agreement, with theparticipation of organisations and communities, respecting existingself-protection mechanisms, and with a gender and ethnic perspective.

In addition, andin compliance with the European Guidelines for Defenders, we request that theInternational Community visit the territories and offices of the organisationsof those who have been attacked and threatened, as well as publicly andforcefully rejecting the actions against them.

Signatories:

InternationalOffice for Human Rights – Action on Colombia OIDHACO (European andinternational organizations platform)

World OrganizationAgainst Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders.

FIDH, in the frameworkof the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

Protection International (International)

Broederlijk DelenVZM (Belgium)

Catapa (Belgium)

Comité pour le respect des droits humains"Daniel Gillard" (Belgium)

Solsoc (Belgium)

ACAT - Action des chrétiens pour l’abolition de la torture (France)

Kolko- Menschenrechte für Kolumbien (Germany)

Misereor(Germany)

AlterNativaIntercanvi amb Pobles Indígenes (Spanish State)

Atelier (Spanish State)

Colectivo Maloka (Spanish State)

Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras(Spanish State)

Cooperacció (Spanish State)

Enginyeria Sense Fronteres (Spanish State)

Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya (Spanish State)

Mujeres Pal’ante (Spanish State)

Taula Catalana porla Paz y los Derechos Humanos en Colombia (Spanish State):

  • Ajuntament de Lleida
  • Assemblea de Cooperació per la Pau
  • Associació Catalana per la Pau
  • Comissió Catalana d'Ajuda al Refugiat
  • Consell Nacional de la Joventut de Catalunya
  • Cooperacció
  • Entrepobles
  • Fons Català de Cooperació al Desenvolupament
  • Foro Internacional de Víctimas
  • Fundación Indera
  • Fundació Pau i Solidaritat - CCOO Catalunya
  • FundiPau
  • Intersindical-CSC
  • Justícia i Pau
  • La Colectiva. Mujeres refugiadas, exiliadas y migradas de Colombia en España
  • La f.agrave;bric@
  • LaFede.cat
  • Lliga dels Drets dels Pobles
  • Moviment per la Pau - MPDL
  • Mujer Diáspora
  • Nabowa - Xarxa per la Pau
  • Oxfam Intermón
  • Plataforma Unitària Contra les Violències de Gènere
  • Sindicalistes Solidaris – UGT

SoldepazPachakuti (Spanish State)

Mundubat(Spanish State)

SweFOR - TheSwedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (Sweden)

Ask! Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Kolumbien(Switzerland)

Kolumbien-PlattformSchweiz (Switzerland)

ColombianCaravana (United Kingdom)

Christian Aid(United Kingdom)

For further information please contact JorgeGómez, Oidhaco Coordinator , oidhaco@oidhaco.org, tel.+32 2 5361913

Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts