IACHR EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT THREATS IN COLOMBIA
Washington, D.C., April 10, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its grave concern about recent threats made against human rights defenders and members of social organizations in Colombia.
The Commission has received information indicating that, as a result of the call for and participation in a demonstration held on March 6, social and human rights organizations have received death threats. In addition, several members of these groups were identified by their full names in the threats, which were signed by an alleged armed group operating outside the law that goes by the name “Águilas Negras”. These developments are taking place in a context of violence against human rights defenders in Colombia, in which several social leaders have been killed.
The IACHR regrets these developments and makes a special appeal to the Colombian State to urgently adopt all measures that may be necessary to safeguard human rights defenders and members of social organizations who have been threatened. The Commission also urges the State to investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for these threats and to guarantee the security of human rights defenders and social leaders.
Without prejudice to any protection measures that may be adopted under different programs run by State agencies in Colombia, the IACHR recommends that the government create opportunities for dialogue among its highest-level authorities and the organizations and individuals directly affected by the threats, in order to find urgent, specific, and appropriate ways to respond to the seriousness of these developments.
The Commission reiterates that the defense of human rights can be freely exercised only when the defenders of those rights are not victims of threats or acts of harassment. The Commission recognizes the essential role of human rights defenders in guaranteeing and safeguarding democracy and the rule of law. The IACHR supports the work of human rights defenders in Colombia.
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