A March 14 2004 Amnesty International bulletin indicates that human rights lawyer Rodolfo Ríos Lozano has in recent weeks, received a succession of very serious death threats delivered by telephone and has been further intimidated by being kept under surveillance and followed. Specific threats warn that he must drop his legal cases, leave Colombia or be killed. Rodolfo Rios Lozano received increased levels of threats in late February 2004. In one phone call he was called a “FARC terrorist dog, lawyer who defends narcoterrorists” (Perro terrorista de las FARC, abogado defensor de narcoterroristas). The increase in threats and surveillance against Mr. Rios followed the release of several of his clients who were held following a number of mass arrests.
Mr. Ríos represents a number of human rights defenders who have accused the armed forces of human rights violations. One of his clients is Arauca Peasant Association—ACA president, Luz Perly Córdoba. She was arrested in Bogotá on February 18, 2004 on accusations of being linked to guerrilla groups. The same day Jesús Gutiérrez, ACA’s treasurer, was also arrested. ACA has been highly critical of the armed forces, and in turn has been accused of being a “subversive” organization. ACA members have faced constant threats, arrests, violence and harassment as a result of the groups’ work exposing human rights abuses in Arauca Department. [AMR 23/013/2004]. LRWC is extremely concerned for the safety of Mr. Rios and members of ACA. LRWC is deeply troubled by the actions taken by the armed forces against ACA, particularly in light of comments made by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe equating human rights defenders with terrorists.
Letter written March 19 2004 by Gail Davidson, LRWC Director.
1.FARC refers to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército de Pueblo (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), a left-wing guerilla group that has been waging a war against the government and right wing paramilitary groups since the 1960s.