KAIROS is extremely concerned about the life and personal safety of Lilia Solano. Lilia is a human rights activist, an academic and a member of the Mennonite church who is presently director of the church-based human rights organization, Proyecto Justicia y Vida and a professo of social and political science at the National University in Bogota. Lilia is well known to KAIROS and the Canadian churches. She has been to Canada on a number of occasions and participated in events organized by KAIROS and the churches, and in meetings with the Canadian government.
Lilia received telephone death threats after she staged a protest in national Congress against possible government plans to grant immunity from prosecution to army-backed paramilitary groups. As three national paramilitary leaders addressed Congress on July 28, Lilia and another human rights activist, Ivan Cepeda, staged a protest inside the chamber and were evicted by police. Since then she has received several death threats, and the offices of Proyecto Justicia y Vida where she works have reportedly been kept under constant surveillance by unknown men.
The current death threats towards Lilia Solano need to be seen in the context of the increasing risk to human rights defenders in Colombia. H uman rights organizations are frequently labelled as guerrilla collaborators or supporters by the security forces and their paramilitary allies. Such accusations are often followed by serious human rights violations such as ‘disappearances’, murders or torture, committed by army-backed paramilitary groups, and also by members of the security forces.