David Ravelo Crespo, the Secretary General of the non-governmental human rights organization Corporaci¨®n Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS), Georgina Morales, student leader and member of the organization, and other members of CREDHOS are in danger.
Mr. Crespo has received a number of death threats, the most recent on 31 May 2005, while Ms. Morales narrowly escaped an attempt on her life in February 2005. These threats are especially significant in the wake of the recent death of Stivenson Torres, a CREDHOS member who was reportedly killed on 24 April 2005 by alleged paramilitaries.
CREDHOS, the Regional Committee for the Defence of Human Rights [www.credhos.org], is a group of human rights defenders operating in the troubled Colombian city of Barrancabermeja. Formed in 1987, CREDHOS has worked in the region to support innocent civilians who have suffered human rights abuses at the hands of Colombia¡¯s warring factions. The organization offers legal advice, administrative support and solidarity to the victims of human rights violations while documenting and exposing the human rights crisis in the Barrancabermeja region.
Since the group¡¯s inception, CREDHOS members have suffered continued harassment and repeated death threats from army-backed paramilitary groups. Several members have been killed in the past.
LRWC issued a letter of concern on 15 June 2005 to Senor Presidente Alvaro Uribe Velez with copies sent to Pierre Pettigrew, Canada¡¯s Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jean-Marc Duval, Canadian Ambassador to Colombia; the Colombian National Attorney General; the Governor of Santander Department and CREDHOS.
LRWC has expressed concern for the safety of David Ravelo Crespo, Georgina Morales and other members of CREDHOS and is seeking assurances from the Colombian government that immediate and effective action will be taken to ensure that members of CREDHOS and other defenders of human rights can carry out their legitimate and important work in safety.