Colombian Commission of Jurists Threat Sparks International Outrage

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 5 March 2009

The United Nations, the International Trade Union Confederation, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and other bodies around the world have condemned a new death threat made by army-backed paramilitaries against the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ), one of Colombia's foremost human rights organisations. The threat arrived by fax at the CCJ office on March 2nd and specifically targeted staff member Lina Paola Malagon who has been working on a high profile report about the abuses against trade unionists in Colombia.

The threat which was signed by the Capital Block ('Bloque Captial') of the AUC paramilitary alliance describes the CCJ as "full of communist fighters" and described Ms Malagon, a lawyer, as a "bitch guerrilla working for the defence of trade unionists". The threat also included Ms Malagon's home address and mobile phone number and said that the paramilitaries had tapped her phone and had her house under surveillance. It ended by saying "Leave or we will kill you bitch. You have one day to leave Bogota and do not come back".

Ms Malagon has been conducting an investigation into human rights violations against trade unionists for the CCJ. Her work was recently submitted as evidence to a US Congressional Committee that was investigating labour rights violations in Colombia. The Congressional hearing also heard evidence from trade unionists, Human Rights Watch and relatives of victims of human rights abuses , all of whom challenged claims made by the Colombian Government that there had been an improvement in the situation.

"A year ago we sent President Uribe a letter in which we expressed our concern about the threats made against various human rights organisations by the AUC's Bloque Capital" said Wilder Tayler, the General Secretary of the International Commission of Jurists, in a March 5th press release. "Evidently the authorities have not taken sufficient steps to dismantle this paramilitary group as they continue functioning with absolute impunity."

An Amnesty International statement said that "the security forces and paramilitaries have often labelled human rights organizations, trade unions and other social organizations as guerrilla collaborators or supporters. This has led to members of these organizations being threatened, abducted or killed."

Justice for Colombia has also sent a letter of protest to the Colombian authorities.

See the ITUC statement about the case here.

See the Amnesty International statement here.

See the ICJ statement (in Spanish) here.

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