Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In the dock and under the gun: New report on human rights in Colombia

Human Rights First has issued a new report on unfounded criminal prosecutions and harassment that are endangering and interfering with the work of human rights activists in Colombia.

Titled Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia: In the Dock and Under the Gun, the report documents the cases of 32 prosecuted human rights activists, as well as analyzing the extent of the problem.

The report concludes with the following recommendations to the Colombian government:

  • Empower the human rights prosecutor to review all criminal investigations against human rights defenders, close those that are unfounded, and immediately release those in detention;

  • Prosecute officials found to have violated the law in falsely investigating human rights defenders;

  • Stop using coerced and coached witness testimony and intelligence files as a basis to initiate criminal investigations against defenders; and

  • Refrain from public statements that falsely link human rights advocacy to terrorism.

Colombia is one of the most dangerous states in the world for human rights defenders. Dozens of human rights defenders are murdered every year, including labor rights activists, lawyers, indigenous leaders, members of nongovernmental organizations, and community and religious leaders.

El informe de Human Rights First está también en español: Los defensores de derechos humanos acusados sin fundamento: Presos y señalados en Colombia

Photo: Gloria Florez of MINGA, Andrew Hudson of Human Rights First, and Ivan Cepeda of MOVICE at the press conference releasing the report in Bogota, February 24, 2009.

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