01 April 2005
UA 78/05 Fear for safety/death threats
COLOMBIA Danilo Rueda (m)
Other members of the non-governmental human rights organization Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz, Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission
A written death threat has been delivered to the offices of the non-governmental human rights organization Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz, Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission. The letter was addressed to Justicia y Paz member Danilo Rueda, and threatened him and other members of the organization.
Danilo Rueda had to leave the country temporarily after a similar death threat two years ago, and Amnesty International believes he and other members of Justicia y Paz are in grave danger.
The threat was delivered to the organization's offices in the capital, Bogotá, on the morning of 29 March. It accused Danilo Rueda and other members of the organization of being guerrilla supporters.
It read: Danilo Rueda Q.E.P.D: No vamos a permitir que el yugo opresor de la guerrilla terrorista vuelva a la región…Todos los de justicia y pas (sic) quedan también advertidos. Viva la libertad no a las viejas opresiones terroristas en estafetas de derechos humanos. ("Danilo Rueda R.I.P: We will not allow the oppressive yoke of the terrorist guerrilla to return to the region… All members of Justice and Peace are warned. Long live freedom, no to the old terrorist oppression in the name of human rights.”)
Justicia y Paz had recently intervened in a hearing of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States. They were lodging a complaint that indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities were being driven off their land by the actions of the army and their paramilitary allies in the departments of Curvaradó, Jiguamiandó and Chocó.
Danilo Rueda and Justicia y Paz received death threats in November 2002 and February 2003. Danilo Rueda was forced to flee the country, and remained abroad for six months to escape attack. (See UA 42/03, AMR 23/015/2003, 11 February 2003.)
Justicia y Paz campaigns on behalf of civilian communities in conflict regions in Colombia, which suffer human rights violations at the hands of the security forces and their paramilitary allies. The security forces and the paramilitaries have frequently accused them of being "subversive". They have a policy of labelling human rights organizations as guerrilla collaborators or supporters, so they can present them as legitimate targets in their war against guerrilla forces that has continued for over 40 years. People labeled in this way are often attacked or killed by paramilitaries. In recent months the security forces have accused Justicia y Paz members of being guerrilla supporters on several occasions.
Armed opposition groups have also threatened and killed civilians they accuse of siding with their enemies.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:
- urging the authorities to guarantee the safety of Danilo Rueda and other members of Justicia y Paz, in line with the Inter-American Commission of Human precautionary measures issued in September 2003;
- expressing concern at the death threat sent to Danilo Rueda and other members of the Justicia y Paz on 29 March;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation of the threat, for the results to be made public and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to take immediate and effective action deemed appropriate by those under threat, to ensure that members of Justicia y Paz can carry out their legitimate and important work for the defence of human rights in safety;
- reminding the authorities of their obligations to human rights defenders, as laid out in the UN 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 Organization of American States Human Rights Defenders in the Americas resolutions and in repeated recommendations made to them by the UN;
- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups, in line with stated government commitments and UN recommendations.
Señor Presidente Álvaro Uribe Vélez
Presidente de la República, Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-2, Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 337 5890/342 0592
Salutation: Dear President Uribe/ Excmo. Sr. Presidente Uribe
Vicepresidente de la República de Colombia
Dr. Francisco Santos Calderón
Vicepresidencia, Carrera 8A No 5-57,Bogotá,Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 565 7682
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Vicepresidente/ Dear Vice-President
Dr. Luis Camilo Osorio
Fiscal General de la Nación, Fiscalía General de la Nación,
Diagonal 22B 52 01 (Ciudad Salite), Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 570 2000 (you will hear a message in Spanish asking you to enter extension 2017)
Salutation: Dear Dr. Osorio / Estimado Dr. Osorio
Non-governmental human rights organization
Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz
Calle 50 No13-19 Oficina 203
and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 13 May 2005.
DRAFT LETTER TO COPY:
Senor Presidente Alvaro Uribe Velez
Presidente de la Republica
Palacio de Narino
Carrera 8 No 7-2
Dear President Uribe
I am writing to let you know of my deep concern at the death threat sent to DANILO RUEDA and other members of Justicia y Paz on 29th March. The threat was delivered to the office of Justicia y Paz in Bogota, and accused DANILO RUEDA and other members of this respected non-governmental organisation of being guerrilla supporters.
Justicia y Paz had recently intervened in a hearing of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organisation of American States, lodging a complaint that indigenous and Afro-descendent communities were being forced off their land due to the actions of the army and their paramilitary allies in the departments of Curvarado, Jiguamiando and Choco.
I urge you in the strongest terms to guarantee the safety of DANILO RUEDA and other members of Justicia y Paz, in accordance with the precautionary measures granted to this organisation by the Inter-American Commision of human Rights in September 2003.
I further call on you to establish a full and impartial investigation of this serious threat, to make the results public, and to bring those responsible to justice. Please take immediate and effective action, in line with what is deemed appropriate by the recipients of this these threats, to ensure that members of Justicia y Paz can continue to carry out their important and legitimate work defending human rights in Colombia.
I would take this opportunity to remind you of your obligations to human rights defenders, as laid out in the UN 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 Organisation of American States’ Human Rights Defenders in the Americas resolutions, and in repeated recommendations made to you by the UN.
I urge you, finally, to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups, in line with your government’s stated commitments and Un recommendations.
Thank you for your time, I await your reply with interest,
Copies can be posted to the address at the top of the page, or faxed to +57 1 337 5890 / 342 0592
Please also send a copy to:
His Excellency Mr Alfonso Lopez-Caballero
Embassy of Colombia
3 Hans Crescent
Fax: 020 7581 1829 / 020 7589 4718