Harassment And Intimidation Of Colombian Peace Activists “Lazos de Dignidad”

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Above Photo: From Afgj.org

The Alliance for Global Justice is concerned about harassment and intimidation that is being experienced by Colombia’s legal collective Fundación Lazos de Dignidad (FLD – Links of Dignity Foundation). Over the past months, collective members have faced a home break-in and illegal search, observation and filming of their 17th floor office by drone, and slanderous media publications and social media posts that place FLD volunteers at risk. Currently the Executive Secretary is facing spurious charges for her work in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) courts set up as part of the peace agreement.

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Many of you will recognize Lazos de Dignidad from past alerts and publications, and their 2014 US tour. Our partnership with the group dates from 2009. Since the peace process began in 2012 (finalized in November 2016), Lazos de Dignidad has been primarily focused on developing and implementing accords having to do with political prisoners and prisoners of war, legal cases related to truth and reconciliation, and crimes against humanity committed during the civil war. Lazos de Dignidad has provided several contract workers for the JEP. They also are providing legal defense to Jesús Santrich, a commander and peace negotiator for the former FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army) and current, legal FARC political party (Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Common). The US government has requested the extradition of Santrich based on unsubstantiated charges in what is a clear attack on one of the crucial components of the accords.

Enemies of the peace in Colombia are trying to destroy the entire institution of the JEP and have taken aim at Lazos de Dignidad for their relationship with the court. Besides attacking the peace, these pro-war advocates threaten the entire legal system, the right of defense for the accused, and the ability for legal personnel to practice their profession free of unnecessary risk and intimidation.

Below is an English translation of the alert sent out by Lazos de Dignidad about the most recent events: 

Click here to read the original Spanish

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me. (Martin Niemoller)

Lazos de Dignidad (FLD – Links of Dignity), a nongovernmental organization that defends human rights, founded in the year 2007, member of the American Coordination for the People’s Rights, emits the present URGENT ACTION due to the systematic intimidation, stigmatization, and harassment against our organization and various of its members, in accordance with the following:

  1. During the last three years, FLD has developed work in promotion of the Peace, initially, helping the Tables of Dialogue in Havana in the revision of the legal situation of persons processed or condemned for belonging to or collaborating with the FARC-EP [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army] and, presently, supporting the process of reincorporation and access to justice for this population, in the context of the implementation of the Final Peace Accord signed November 24 2016, and of the current Peace Regulations; one of the reincorporation projects that FLD executes is financially supported by the European Union.
  2. In recognition of said commitment with the Peace, both FLD like their lawyers have been linked to the Autonomous System of Counsel and Defense (SAAD) agreed to in the Final Peace Accord, regulated by the Law 1820 de 2016 and the Decree 1166 of 2018, which is administrated by the Executive Secretary of the Special Jurisdiction for the Peace (JEP) and is intended for the provision of a free service of legal defense, assistance, advice and representation to persons appearing before the JEP and other components of the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparations and No Repetition (SIVJRNR). Therefore, it is plainly and publicly known that the work of the SAAD is legal, autonomous and confidential.
  3. For the lawyers of FLD, working for the Peace has generated stigmatization, intimidation, harassment, injury, slander, illegal vigilance and even violation of the home by unknown persons, media and functionaries of the State that do not recognize the Final Peace Accord, a situation that we have formally and publicly denounced, whereby, taking into account our vulnerability, we have solicited preventive measures before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
  4. On March 5 2019, in the middle of a discrediting campaign begun against the JEP, the journalist Daniel Jerez of “La FM”, published a bold “note” titled “The defenders of Jesús Santrich and their contracts with the JEP”. In said note, without any context nor mention of the current peace regulations referred to in point two of the present document, the journalist manipulates information and generates animosity against three lawyers assigned to the SAAD, contracted by the Executive Secretary of the JEP, among whom are found the FLD members NADIA GABRIELA TRIVIÑO LÓPEZ and WILLIAM ALBERTO ACOSTA MENÉNDEZ, exhibiting them in a malicious manner with obvious ends of stigmatization and intimidation. Likewise, the journalist suspiciously mentions that the lawyers mentioned are members of FLD and that this [legal collective] works for the liberty of citizen Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, also known as “Jesús Santrich”, who, like every Colombian citizen, has the right of defense and respect for due process.

 

  1. The reactions to the “note” of the journalist Daniel Jerez of “La FM” were immediate and harmful: under the hashtag #CarruselDeLaJEP and from the twitter accounts @KstroJerry (FRANCOTIRADOR) [francotirador means sniper], @martik1214, @Helenpomar, @nanilike02, @Margot6081660, @JusticiaEsPaz35, among others, they have reproduced the stigmatization, harassment and intimidation against FLD and the lawyers NADIA GABRIELA TRIVIÑO LÓPEZ and WILLIAM ALBERTO ACOSTA MENÉNDEZ, by means of exhibition of their images and diffusion of slanderous messages that besides attacking their honor and good names, promote hate and constitute a grave risk that can generate aggressions against their personal integrity and the lives of the members of FLD.

WE ALERT [THE PUBLIC] THAT:

The bold press “note” of the journalist Daniel Jerez de “La FM” belongs to the wave of stigmatization, harassment and intimidation that since October of last year has increased against FLD, which not only generates censorship and animosity against the lawyers that work in support of the implementation of the Final Peace Accord, but also constitutes a risk for the right to life and personal integrity of all the human rights defenders who belong to FLD, unless the Colombian State might take measures to guarantee the protection of our rights in conformity with the Political Constitution of Colombia, the Presidential Directive Number 007 of 1999, the Ministerial Directive Number 09 of 2003, the Basic Principles concerning the Function of Lawyers (1990) and the Declaration concerning Human Rights Defenders (1998), that establish the obligation of the State and of the governments to guarantee the carrying out of the legal profession and the exercise of the defense of human rights without intimidations, obstacles, harassment, undue interference, nor persecutions.

We consider with extreme gravity that, in flagrant violation of the principles of the Social State of Law, functionaries of the State and the communication media “La FM”, “El Tiempo”, and “Agency API” promote animosity and generate a atmosphere of hate against the lawyers and human rights defenders that belong to FLD and are assigned to the SAAD, given that, in the past, similar practices have provoked assaults and assassinations, especially if one takes into account that, according to the People’s Defender [Ombudsman], the number of assassinations of social leaders and human rights defenders has climbed to 164 committed between November 2018 and January 2019.

We hold responsible the Colombian State and the communication media “La FM”, “El Tiempo” and “Agency API” for whatever assault or violation of the life and liberty that they commit against the human rights defenders affiliated with FLD and other defenders assigned to the SAAD administrated by the Executive Secretary of the JEP.

URGENT PETITIONS

  1. To the Inter-American Human Rights Commission: To have as new facts of aggression what is narrated in the present urgent action and order the Colombian State to guarantee and protect the rights of the human rights defenders that form FLD.
  2. To the President of Colombia IVAN DUQUE: To offer GUARANTEES AND PROTECTION to the human rights defenders who form FLD and to the lawyers that are found assigned to the SAAD, in fulfilment of the Political Constitution of Colombia, the Presidential Directive Number 007 of 1999, the Ministerial Directive Number 09 of 2003, the Basic Principles concerning the Function of Lawyers (1990) and the Declaration concerning Human Rights Defenders (1998).
  3. To the Executive Secretary of the Special Jurisdiction for the Peace: To pronounce [on this matter] with urgency and solicit the communication media and state entities to respect the work of the lawyers assigned to the SAAD.
  4. To the Communications Media “La FM”, “El Tiempo” and “Agency API”: To respect the principles of the Social State of Law, the exercise of the defense of human rights and the practice of the legal profession in Colombia, especially in the sensitive labor of support for the implementation of the Peace Accord, consequently, to abstain from intimidating, promoting harassment and hate against the lawyers that form FLD and that are found assigned to the SAAD.
  5. To the National Human Rights Unit of the National Attorney General: To add the facts of this urgent action to the investigation that is being moved forward by the denunciations that FLD has formally and publicly formulated, through which we have asked for speed and prompt promotion of sanctions against those responsible for the systematic deeds of aggression consummated against members of the FLD.
  6. To the National and International Community and Solidarity Organizations: To resend and back this present Urgent Action.