Yesterday, U.S. non-governmental organizations, activists, academics, unions and religious sent a letter to Diego Fernando Mora Arango, director of the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección, UNP) urging him to take a series of actions concerning the recent attacks and threats against human rights defenders, Afro-Colombian and indigenous activists, trade unionists and victims engaged in the peace process taking place in Havana, Cuba. In 2014 alone, 55 defenders were assassinated and 488 received death threats. At least 13 of the victims who have engaged in the peace process have received threats. Countless unionists remain military targets by illegal armed groups.
The letter urges UNP director to proactively participate in the Roundtable on Guarantees for Human Rights Defenders, to publicly condemn killings and attacks, end UNP’s practice of sub-contracting, implement the decree required for Colombian institutions to provide collective measures for Afro-Colombians and other vulnerable groups, and asks the UNP director to use his office to encourage the office of the Attorney General to advance investigations of attacks against human rights defenders.
The letter includes an appendix of protection cases requiring immediate attention.