Colombia: Death Threat to Lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero

Re: Death Threat to Lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero

To: President Juan Manuel Santos; Rodrigo Rivera Salazar, Minister of Defense

From: Vicheka Lay

Date: 2011-06-12

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is concerned for the personal and professional safety of lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero. On June 2 and June 7, 2011, Mr. Rosero received death threats via text message and email for his involvement in the case of Edison Yimel Villanueva.

Julio Cesar Rosero is representing Jenny Torres, the wife of Mr. Villanueva, in the trial of eight members of the Urban Counter-Terrorism Special Forces Group (Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Urbanas) and the Group of Unified Action for Personal Liberty (Grupo de Acción Unificada por la Libertad Personal), who were allegedly responsible for the death of Mr. Villanueva.

LRWC urgently requests you to respect your inaugural promise, made shortly after your presidential inauguration in 2010, to promote “non-stigmatization” of legal professionals and human rights defenders. The death threat to lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero has added to the climate of fear for lawyers and human rights defender in Colombia and continues to deteriorate Colombia’s legal profession.

LRWC urges you to promote the right of lawyers and human rights defenders not to be linked to their clients’ causes, or persecuted because of their link to their clients, by abolishing the culture of impunity for those committing death threats toward, those intending to kill or those who have killed lawyers or other human rights defenders in Colombia.

As a member of the United Nations, Colombia has a duty to comply with the Declaration on Human Rights Defender, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998.

Article 9 (1) and (2) of the Declaration state:

1. In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights.
2. To this end, everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law and to obtain from such an authority a decision, in accordance with law, providing redress, including any compensation due, where there has been a violation of that person’s rights or freedoms, as well as enforcement of the eventual decision and award, all without undue delay”.

LRWC urgently requests you to do your utmost to restore and fully protect the professional rights and freedoms of lawyers and human rights defender in Colombia, by doing the following:

1. Express concern for the security situation of Julio Cesar Rosero, calling on the authorities to ensure protection measures for those threatened in agreement with them.
2. Abide by the international law standards, applicable to the Colombian legal system, that safeguard the professional and personal rights and freedom of human rights defenders.
3. Urge the authorities to fully and impartially investigate the threats against them and prosecute those responsible.
4. Demand commitment from the authorities to take decisive action to end extrajudicial executions and guarantee the protection of those campaigning for justice in line with United Nations human rights recommendations.

LRWC trusts that you will take the measures suggested or such other measures as adequately ensure the personal and professional safety of lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero and restore public confidence in the role of the lawyer and human rights defender.

In view of the importance of this matter, we request a response from you clarifying what remedial action you have taken. LRWC await your response. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.