WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

24 May 2019 | Press Release

In Critical Time for Peace in Colombia, 79 Members of Congress Rally in Support of the Peace Accords and Human Rights Defenders

Washington, DC—In a letter sent by U.S. Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), John Lewis (D-GA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 79 Members of Congress expressed their full support for the implementation of the 2016 Colombian peace accords and their rejection of the “continuing escalation of murders and attacks against human rights defenders and social leaders.” The letter calls for Pompeo to emphatically oppose “initiatives by the Colombian Government to weaken or overturn accord commitments.”

The 79 Members of Congress explicitly denounce the lack of implementation, funding, and reneging of the Duque government on key pieces of the accord, such as voluntary substitution of illicit-use crops, the return of land to those displaced, and the transitional justice system in its entirety. When referring to the security crisis of social leaders and human rights defenders in the country, the letter called for “individual and collective protection and prevention measures…in consultation and coordination with those defenders who are at risk.”

The letter also expresses support for the Ethnic Chapter of the peace accord, which ensures collective autonomous protection measures and land rights for Afro-Colombians and indigenous peoples. The text urges Pompeo and the U.S. State Department to use every diplomatic channel to encourage full implementation of the Ethnic Chapter.

Among the signatory Members of Congress are 13 Chairs of House Committees including Richard Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, Frank Pallone of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Jim McGovern of the Rules Committee. Additionally, 10 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, four members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that assigns foreign assistance, 16 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, seven members of the Armed Services Committee, 12 new Members of Congress, and many more allies of the peace accord signed as well.

Find the full letter here.