DEPLORES THE ASSASSINATION OF MARIA DEL CARMEN FLOREZ IN COLOMBIA
Acting President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Juan E. Méndez,
has condemned the assassination of Mrs. María del Carmen Florez, human
rights defender, which occurred on Thursday, February 14, 2002, in Colombia.
Mrs. Florez, representative of the municipality of
Mutatá and co-founder of the Colombian Juridical Foundation [Fundación
Jurídica Colombiana], was working on the case of the alleged forced
disappearance of Alcides Torres Arias, a case now pending before the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The Commission has scheduled a hearing on the aforementioned case for
March 2002 at its 114th regular session.
Mrs. Florez was engaged in preparatory work for this hearing.
According to information received by the IACHR, Mrs.
Florez was kidnapped, tortured, and subsequently assassinated.
It is not known whether she or other persons involved with the
Foundation had received threats prior to the assassination.
Dr. Méndez stated: “The IACHR regrets and deplores
Mrs. María del Carmen Florez’ assassination.
Human rights defenders carry out the vital work of protecting
everyone’s rights. Protection
of such defenders thus takes on singular importance.”
IACHR pointed to the adoption by the member states of the OAS, at its
regular session held in Costa Rica in June 2001, of resolution AG/RES. 1818
(XXXI-O/01) which, inter alia,
To deplore acts that directly or
indirectly prevent or hamper the work of human rights defenders in the
urge member states to step up their efforts to adopt the necessary measures,
in keeping with their domestic law and with internationally accepted
principles and standards, to guarantee the life, personal safety, and
freedom of expression of human rights defenders.
instruct the Permanent Council to follow up on this resolution and to report
to the General Assembly at its thirty-second regular session on its
The Inter-American Commission has informed the
Permanent Council of the OAS of the extrajudicial execution of María del
Dr. Santiago A. Canton, Executive Secretary of the
Commission, also categorically condemned the assassination of the Colombian
“The assassination of a
human rights defender is offensive to the entire inter-American community.
Human rights defenders are the first line of defense.
Attacks on such defenders render society as a whole more vulnerable
to assaults on human rights.”
Washington, D.C., February 15, 2002