The International Observatory for Endangered Lawyers denounced the harassment and persecution suffered by women lawyers of the Colombian association “Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho (ASOCOLEMAD)” and urges the Colombian authorities and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to adopt precautionary protective measures.
Alfredo Irujo, member of the Observatory’s board, exposed on Monday 6 November, at the public hearing before the IACHR, the reprisals against the members of ASOCOLEMAD in northern Colombia, “victims of surveillance, harassment and persecution since 2014” due to “their professional work in defence of human rights”.
“Among the detected risk incidents, the attempted kidnapping and forced disappearance of the son of the lawyer and coordinator of the Association, Luz Romero, in December 2019, which led to a period of exile for both of them, stands out for its seriousness,” Irujo denounced.
After more than two years without any progress in the investigations, the Attorney General’s Office closed the complaint. Therefore, the OIAD “urged the Colombian government to take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety and physical and psychological integrity of ASOCOLEMAD members”, remarked the representative of the Observatory.
Among the precautionary protection measures in the field of justice, the OIAD calls for the creation of a commission to investigate criminal complaints of threats against women defenders.
The Observatory has also requested the implementation of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the recommendations of the Truth Commission Report, the report of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Territorial Violence and the “Colombia en Riesgo” Report, as well as an analysis of the efficiency of the National Protection Unit, in order to establish efficient protection schemes agreed with the beneficiaries.
The Observatory has also published international alerts and sent letters to the National Protection Unit and the Prosecutor’s Office informing them about the several attacks and risk incidents suffered by these lawyers, without having obtained satisfactory responses to lawyers’ needs to date.
You can watch the recording of the public hearing before the IACHR at the following link (from the minute 2:23)