Environmentalist and Human Rights Activist Threatened

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth, have protested to the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over death threats made against leading Colombian environmentalist and human rights activist Guillermo Castano. Two of Mr Castano's colleagues, who work with him in the region of Risaralda, Mauricio Cubides and Diego Macias, have also been threatened with death.

Mr Castano, who has spent decades working to protect the environment and natural resources, was responsible for introducing ecological farming practices to Colombia and, due to his keen interest in defending human rights, is the honorary president of the Risaralda section of the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPDH) Colombia's leading human rights organisation.

The most recent threat on his life arrived in the form of a letter signed by the 'Black Eagles' paramilitary group, a death squad with links to the Colombian state security forces. The letter said that if he and his two colleagues did not leave the region within 48 hours that they would all be assassinated.

Mr Castano has been threatened by the paramilitaries before, in both 2002 and 2004, and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has ordered the Colombian State to take steps to protect his life.

In their July 1st letter to the Colombian President the environmental organisations call on the authorities to "guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in line with the international human rights norms that have been ratified by Colombia" and demand an end to "all types of harassment and violence against environmentalists and human rights defenders in Colombia."

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