Human Rights Organisations Pull Out of Roundtable and Demand Santos Meeting

News from Colombia | on: Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The human rights and social organisations that take part in the National Roundtable for Guarantees have withdrawn from the process in the wake of the killing of Ana Fabricia Cordoba, and have called for a meeting with President Santos. The main purpose of the UN-supported Roundtable was to help provide the necessary guarantees for Colombian human rights defenders. The organisations are demanding that Santos provide the protection measures necessary for them to continue their work before they will rejoin the Roundtable.

In the light of the ongoing assassinations of human rights defenders and the lack of government action to adequately protect defenders and social leaders, they argue that the Roundtable process has lost its purpose.

The human rights organisations state that despite over two years of discussions, social leaders and human rights defenders continue to be killed, threatened, attacked and disappeared, without concrete and effective protection being provided by the government. Under President Uribe, the government modified existing protection programmes, severely weakening them. Nothing has been done to improve these programmes since and so far this year 26 social activists have been killed. Furthermore, they say that at the same time the state continues to open baseless legal proceedings against human rights activists and social leaders.

They also highlight instances of government lack of goodwill and cooperation. For example, repeated requests were made for the government to report those individuals involved in the DAS intercepts scandal (which saw the same DAS intelligence service that provides protection measures being used spy on the human rights, social organisations and political opposition they were meant to be protecting). Yet the current head of the DAS remains in post despite being under investigation. Nor has the Colombian state provided results into the investigations of crimes against human rights defenders. Impunity for these abuses is increasing.

In an effort to resolve this situation the organisations are calling for an immediate meeting with President Santos in which adequate guarantees can be provided for the work of human rights defenders in Colombia.

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