Read the latest news from the Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Group 


CARAVANA NEWS - JULY 2013






Death threats sent by the “Los Rastrojos” paramilitaries to Colombian human rights organisations, trade unionists and individuals, including the CCAJAR lawyers’ Collective and a leading lawyer from the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP).
   

The threats, sent on August 4, state that those mentioned are military targets, because they are blocking President Santos’s peace process and hampering the work of mining companies. Although the Ministry of the Interior responded swiftly to this serious paramilitary threat, by publicly repudiating the threat and promising to increase protection measures for those threatened, President Santos himself has not made a public announcement, nor explained how those responsible will be brought to justice. We will continue to monitor this case. The Caravana is also concerned that the mining companies mentioned, some of which are listed on the British stock exchange, do not appear to have publicly rejected the threats, and we believe they should make a public statement expressing their repudiation.



Letters written to the Colombian authorities 

On 14 July, the Caravana called upon the Colombian authorities to protect lawyer Jeison Pava, MOVICE member Diego Martínez, and both their families, after they received threatening emails.

On 17 July, the Caravana took action following news that
10 lawyers have been killed so far this year in the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia alone.

On the same day, we also asked the authorities to protect the community of Pitalito and their accompanying lawyers after new threats were made against them.

In July, President Santos declared that after August 2014 there would be no longer be any need for the presence of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia. Given the vital importance of the monitoring and accompaniment work carried out by the OHCHR in Colombia, the Caravana has called for the mandate of the Office to instead be extended again for the usual 3 years.



Killings of Colombian human rights defenders on the increase, according to the Somos Defensores (We are Defenders) Jan-June 2013 report

The new report “Héroes Anónimos” (in Spanish) from Somos Defensores finds that 37 defenders were killed between January and June 2013, which means that on average one defender was killed every four days. The report considers why such killings are on the increase compared with the same period in 2011. In addition, they record one attack every day against a human rights defender in the same period.



The Colombian Constitutional Court organises a public hearing on the “Legal Framework for Peace”

The Colombian Commission of Jurists presented a legal action to the Colombian Constitutional Court regarding the “Legal Framework for Peace”, part of a series of legislation reforms being promoted by the Santos administration. This is a complex issue, related to how the Colombian State will prosecute those who participated in serious crimes during the conflict, if the peace process continues. The hearing presented the different arguments and issues (article in Spanish).



The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) submits report to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC calling for a formal investigation to be opened  

On 9 July 2013, the ECCHR together with the Colombian human rights lawyers’ collective CAJAR and the Colombian trade union confederation CUT submitted a Follow-up Communication to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (in English) requesting the initiation of a formal investigation into crimes against humanity committed in Colombia.  



Report by the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) for the UN Universal Periodic Review of Colombia, on the situation in Colombian prisons (in Spanish)

In April this year, the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners prepared a report on the situation in Colombian prisons, in which they describe high numbers of prisoners awaiting trial, severe overcrowding, torture and attacks against LGBT prisoners. 





SIGN UP NOW FOR OUR MEMBERS’ MEETING!!
 

On the evening of Tuesday September 10 this year, we will be holding a membership meeting and drinks reception for all members and those interested in becoming members, including an update on the human rights situation in Colombia and on our current work. 

Please email:
colombian.caravana@gmail.com to reserve your place.

SAVE THIS DATE

On the evening of September 17, we will also be holding an advocacy meeting, for those of you who are specifically interested in supporting our work writing intervention letters, amicus briefs and contributing to legal research. Please contact the Caravana Coordinator for further details.

 

If you would like to help protect Colombian lawyers, join us and get involved in our working groups on advocacy, communications and fundraising.

Thank you for taking the time to read our latest update and for your interest in the Caravana.

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