Colombia: Protect rights defenders and respect popular consultation
On 30 May 2019, ESCR-Net sent a collective letter to the President of Colombia expressing concern regarding threats directed against ESCR-Net member Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and allied organizations Conciencia Campesina, COSAJUCA and UCAT, as well as the President of the Municipal Council of Cajamarca.
On 14 May 2019, several members of environmental organizations in Cajamarca received a threatening email allegedly from the paramilitary group Águilas Negras. The email accused to organizations of impoverishing the region, enriching themselves and of being guerrilleros. The email stated that it is time to eliminate the “so-called environmentalists” one by one.
The threat appears to be connected to the organizations’ resistance to mining projects in the region. In March 2017, the aforementioned organizations supported public consultations, in which the communities of Cajamarca rejected mining activities in their territory. The organizations have previously received threats due to their involvement in the public consultations.
The letter calls upon the Colombian government to investigate the threats to find and sanction those responsible as well as to ensure the safety of members of Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and the other organizations. The letter also calls on the government to respect the decisions of the public consultations. Finally, the letter draws attention to the extreme and generalized violence faced by human rights defenders in Colombia and calls on the government to publicly condemn attacks on human rights defenders as well as recognize their important contribution to the development of the country.
In addition to the collective letter, ESCR-Net facilitated contact between Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida and security experts from ESCR-Net member Front Line Defenders in part through our shared participation in ProtectDefenders.eu.
To read the full letter click here