Edmond-Claude Frety represents the Observatory at the celebration of 75 years of the UDHR

Edmond-Claude Frety represents the Observatory at the celebration of 75 years of the UDHR

On 7 December 2023, Edmond-Claude Frety, Secretary General of the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger, participated in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, organised by the American Bar Association and the Paris Bar Association. As representative of the OIAD, Edmond-Claude highlighted the critical situation of access to justice and the rule of law in Colombia.

The persistence of violence and the lack of security guarantees, the weakness of the judicial system and the lack of protection and support for lawyers and human rights defenders are three major obstacles to a genuine rule of law in Colombia, which were highlighted in the report of the VIIth International Caravan of Lawyers, in which Edmond-Claude Frety was able to participate with other representatives of the OIAD in August 2022.

18 delegates from various international non-governmental organisations took part in this initiative, which works tirelessly to promote access to justice and improve the rule of law in a country with a particularly complex context. Far from being a post-conflict country, Colombia faces major challenges, including endemic corruption and uncontrolled powers in certain regions, such as drug traffickers and paramilitaries.

In Cartagena, mega-projects carried out by major companies have had a devastating impact on the environment and the lives of local residents, leading to executions, forced displacements and a feeling of powerlessness in the face of the situation. Adil Meléndez, a well-known lawyer defending the Afro-Colombian communities in this region, has survived several assassination attempts and received countless death threats for his work.

The Secretary General of the OIAD referred to the concept of “prevaricato”, a means of condemning a judge who makes a decision deemed incompatible with the law by the prosecutor. The atrocious conditions in Colombian prisons were also highlighted.

The life of a lawyer working in Colombia becomes a constant quest for his own safety and that of his clients, in a State where protection is inadequate. Despite these challenges, the International Caravan of Lawyers persists in its efforts, working with determination to raise awareness of this reality and encourage positive change in Colombia.