Dear Amnesty Letter Writers,
Our research centre (the International Secretariat) recently found out that human rights defenders in Colombia have received death threats for carrying out their work. Last Wednesday the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace received threats aimed at human rights organisations and trade unions working in the country. Amnesty International is particularly concerned about these threats as in the past many members of the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace have been killed, tortured or forced to flee from their homes.
Ayda Quilcué (f) and other members of various organizations (m+f)
On 20 June at 4.44 pm a SMS text message was received by the communications team of the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz), a human rights organization that supports civilian communities in conflict regions in Colombia. Many of their members have been killed, tortured or forced to flee from their homes by the security forces and paramilitary groups. On the same day, Ayda Quilcué a former leader of the Cauca Department Indigenous Regional Council (Concejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC) received a death threat via SMS text to her mobile telephone. The messages mentioned other human rights organizations and trade unions, accusing them of being members of guerrilla groups and threatening them with death. Please see overleaf for details of organizations.
The Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace has been receiving protection from the government due to the risks faced as a result of their human rights work. The telephone which received the message is used in the context of their work and has been provided by (and formally belongs to) the National Protection Unit of the Ministry of Interior. The Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace has formally expressed concern on several occasions and requested meetings with the relevant authorities regarding the lack of proper implementation and inadequacy of the protection measures granted.
This death threat against the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace follows a series of incidents in which members of the organisation have been intimidated, harassed, followed and subject to surveillance by unknown individuals.
Organizations threatened via SMS text message include:
The Social Research and Action Association (Asociación de Investigación y la Acción Social, NOMADESC), Association for the Integral Social Development (Asociación para el desarrollo social integral, ECATE), Permanent Human Rights Committee (Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CPDH), National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado, MOVICE),Trade Union Congress (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, CUT)
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
* Expressing concern for the members of the organizations mentioned in the death threats and urge the authorities to take appropriate measures to protect them, in strict accordance with their wishes;
* Calling on the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into these death threats and all the previous incidents. This is especially important considering that the mobile phone on which the Inter-Church Commission of Justice and Peace received the death threat formally belongs to the National Protection Unit. Publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
* Reminding the Colombian authorities to fulfil their obligations regarding the protections of human rights defenders as specified in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 3 AUGUST 2012 TO: (Time difference = GMT - 5 hrs / BST - 6 hrs)
Señor Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Carrera 8 No.7-26, Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: 0057 1 596 0631
Salutation: Dear President Santos
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