WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
24 Sep 2014 | Commentary

U.S. Organizations Support Broad Inclusion of Victims’ Voices into Colombian Peace Process and Urge Protection for Victims and Defenders

The undersigned organizations express our enthusiastic appreciation and support that a broad and inclusive range of representatives of victims of violence, including victims of the guerrillas, state and paramilitary forces, are being heard at the peace negotiating table in Havana. We urge both parties to the negotiations to fully incorporate into the emerging accords the demands of Colombia’s countless victims of violence for truth, justice, meaningful reparations and guarantees of non-repetition.

At the same time, we are concerned about serious threats against victims’ representatives, human rights defenders, and Afro-Colombian and indigenous community leaders and their family members that have circulated recently, including against one victims’ representative officially invited to speak to the negotiating table. We are also concerned about the robbery of human rights information from members of the Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos human rights coalition in Bogotá, as well as threats and attacks against journalists, including the August 12th murder of Luis Carlos Cervantes, whose protection detail had been lifted just two weeks prior despite continued threats from paramilitary successor groups.

We are greatly encouraged to see this historic peace process advancing.  However, we urge the Colombian government at this time to take all necessary precautions to ensure that victims’ representatives, human rights defenders, journalists and Afro-Colombian and indigenous leaders at risk have adequate protection. This includes adequate protective measures and prompt and thorough investigations of all threats, attacks and human rights-related robberies.

Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Lutheran World Relief
Colombia Human Rights Committee
Center for International Policy
Fellowship of Reconciliation
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries