WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
19 Jul 2010 | News

WOLA Condemns Murder of Afro-Colombian IDP Leader Jair Murillo

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is deeply saddened to report that on Saturday, July 17, Jair Murillo, Afro-Colombian internally displaced activist and member of the Fundación Integral Pacífico Nariñense (FIPAN) was assassinated in Buenaventura, Colombia.  Mr. Murillo was coordinating the mobilization of internally displaced organizations and communities from Buenaventura to participate in a march to Bogota for dignity and human rights that was scheduled for July 18th.

WOLA is particularly disturbed because Mr. Murillo's organization FIPAN was listed in a death threat emailed directly to WOLA in late May from the paramilitary organization the Black Eagles. FIPAN was one of 16 Afro-Colombian organizations named as targets by this group. We fear that unless Colombian government and international authorities respond strongly to this killing, further attacks against organizations listed on this threat may take place.  

In response to the threats received by WOLA from the Black Eagles (one in late May and another in June) a range of NGOs and policymakers called on the Colombian authorities to take strong steps against the perpetrators and to implement protection mechanisms for Afro-Colombian, IDP and human rights organizations targeted by this group. Despite all of the pressure, the Colombian authorities failed to take appropriate measures to protect persons on those lists.

WOLA strongly condemns the murder of Jair Murillo and expresses its deepest condolences to his family, colleagues and Afro-Colombian organizations in Buenaventura.

We urge the Colombian government to immediately investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. We ask the current and incoming Colombian Administrations to act in order to guarantee the safety of Afro-Colombian activists and to respond to AFRODES and other Afro-Colombian organizations' repeated calls for the implementation of policies that take into account the particular concerns of Afrodescendants in order to protect the lives, human rights and territorial rights of Afro-Colombian IDPs, leaders and communities at risk of internal displacement.

Further, we urge the US Congress to pass House Resolution 1224 commemorating Colombia's Constitutional Court and its orders on Afro-Colombians, Indigenous and Women IDPs.  This would signal support for these threatened organizations.

Finally, the US government should work with the Colombian Vice President's Office and Acción Social to move towards putting into action the Constitutional Court's orders on Afro-Colombians that include implementation of plans to prevent further displacement and attacks against Afro-Colombians.

Gimena Sanchez, Senior Associate,
[email protected]; WOLA (202) 489-1702