Intimidation and Killing of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia

Re: Intimidation and Killing of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia

To: H.E. Juan Manuel Santos, H.E. Germán Vargas Lleras, and H.E. Angelino Garzón

From: Alyssa Brierley

Date: 2010-10-01

LRWC has been closely monitoring the case of human rights defenders in Colombia since the new President of Colombia commenced his term of office. In particular, LRWC is concerned with the recent killings of: Mr. Hernando Pérez on 19 September, 2010 in the department of Antioquia; Mr. Alexander Quintero on 23 May, 2010 in the region of Cauca; and, Mr. Rogelio Martínez on 18 May, 2010 in the department of Sucre. Mr. Hernando Pérez was a leader of the Association of Victims for the Restitution of Land and Property (Asociación de Víctimas para la Restitución de Tierras y Bienes, Asovirestibi), and had represented a number of groups who had been displaced from their land by paramilitary groups and security forces. He was gunned down shortly after participating in a ceremony to return land to dozens of peasant farmer families who had been forcibly displaced by the “Bloque Bananero” paramilitary group. Mr. Alexander Quintero and Mr. Rogelio Martinez were also gunned down by armed assailants.

LRWC supports the public commitment to passing legislation facilitating the return of land to its rightful owners. However, this process will continue to be hindered so long as those who advocate for the safety of human rights defenders campaigning for land rights are threatened. LWRC respectfully urges the Columbian government to publicly and unequivocally recognize the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders and to set out its strategy to end the long-standing human rights crisis in Colombia. Additionally, independent and thorough investigations must be carried out to bring those responsible for the killings to justice.