We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Donald Payne of New Jersey from colon cancer. We offer our deepest condolences to Mr. Payne’s family, staff, and friends.
A long-time champion of peace and justice around the world, Representative Payne played an active role in defending human rights and supporting peace processes in Central America. He was a leader in efforts to advance the human rights of Colombia’s over five million internally displaced persons. Over the years, he systematically took action to protect the lives of Afro-Colombian activists, human rights defenders, and internally displaced leaders. Representative Payne was deeply involved in guaranteeing the return of lands to Afro-Colombians that were violently taken over by paramilitaries and oil palm companies in Chocó, Colombia. He intervened on behalf of countless Afro-Colombians, labor activists, and human rights defenders facing death threats in their work for justice.
Representative Payne will be sorely missed by WOLA and its Latin American partners. His legacy will live on in the hearts of WOLA and many Colombians whose lives and human rights work were protected due to Representative Payne’s actions.