Uldarico Florez, Lawyer–disappearance

Re: Uldarico Florez, Lawyer–disappearance

To: President of the Republic of Columbia, Álvaro Uribe Vélez

From: Heather Neun, LRWC member

Date: 2004-01-06

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LWRC) is a committee of Canadian lawyers providing support internationally to lawyers whose rights, safety, or independence are threatened as a result of their human rights advocacy.

I am writing in response to the recent disappearance of human rights lawyer, Uldarico Florez. LWRC is gravely concerned about the whereabouts of Sr. Florez. Sr. Florez is a human rights lawyer and an executive member of the La Asociación Colombiana de Abogados Defensores de Derechos Humanos “Eduardo Umaña Mendoza” (hereafter referred to as the “Association”).

LWRC has received reports that around 9:00 p.m. on December 26, 2003, Sr. Florez made telephone arrangements to meet for a family celebration in the Kennedy neighbourhood of Bogotá later that night. However, Sr. Florez never arrived at the site of the gathering. Despite an exhaustive search by family and friends over the subsequent weekend, there has been no news as to his whereabouts.

LRWC calls on the government of Colombia to undertake immediate measures to locate Sr. Florez and ensure his physical and psychological security and integrity. LRWC also calls upon the government of Columbia to undertake an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident, in order to identify those responsible and apply the appropriate sanctions according to the law. Finally, LWRC calls on the government of Colombia to observe its obligations with respect to the rights of Uldarico Florez, other members of the Association and all other human rights defenders, to ensure that they can carry out their important work in the defence of human rights, without fear for their safety.

The foregoing demands arise out of Colombia’s obligations under binding international laws and principles. We refer in particular to those laws and principles set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Colombia is a signatory and other United Nations declarations including the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Colombia’s obligations to guarantee the physical safety of human rights defenders and to investigate and punish violations also arise from Colombia’s membership in the Organization of American States (OAS) and the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.

LRWC awaits your response. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.