Ongoing Attacks Against Colombian Lawyers

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 4 April 2009

The past month have seen a series of threats issued by rightwing paramilitary groups against several Colombian lawyers as well as an extremely concerning incident in which unidentified men attempted to abduct a leading human rights lawyer in broad daylight from central Bogota. In another incident sensitive documents detailing numerous cases of Army involvement in the murders of civilians were stolen from the home of another leading lawyer.

Incidents recorded in recent weeks include:

  • Repeated harassment of human rights lawyer Darley Moreno Torres who works for the National University of Colombia and with the Permanent Committee for Human Rights, one of the leading human rights NGOs in the country. Incidents have included an attempt, at 8am on March 7th, to abduct him as he walked through central Bogota (near the corner of Carrera 7 and Calle 26). According to reports two men grabbed Mr Moreno Torres and attempted to force him into a taxi, though he was able to escape. On March 18th he was again harassed by two men at around 6pm in another area of central Bogota (Carrera 5 and Calle 19) whilst on several dates since then he has reported being followed and seeing suspicious men hanging around his home and office.
  • The March 31st burglary of the home of Judith Maldonado Mojica, the director of the 'Luis Carlos Perez' collective of human rights lawyers in the city of Arauca. Whilst the intruders ignored several items of value in her home, numerous papers, her laptop, a digital camera, her Dictaphone and her diary were all taken. All contained information about her work documenting crimes perpetrated by the Army, in particular members of the 15th Mobile Brigade and the 30th Brigade of the Colombian Army, and details of collaboration between soldiers and paramilitaries. Days later the e-mail system of the collective began behaving strangely with e-mails sent by staff apparently being read, and in some cases edited, before they arrived in the recipients inboxes.
  • Death threats arriving on February 4th at the offices of the 'Corporacion Juridica Yira Castro' another human rights lawyers collective, and at the office of the National Coordination of Displaced People, both in Bogota. The threat named lawyers Irene Lopez and Claudia Erazo as well as displaced leader Rigoberto Jimenez and said that all three would pay with their lives for what the paramilitaries described as their support of leftwing guerrillas. The Corporacion has also reported problems with their internet domain and, on March 26th, reported that further death threats arrived by e-mail, naming the same two lawyers. Though the threats have been reported to the authorities no effort has been made to investigate the source of the threats nor to protect those targeted. In a statement the lawyers said "the lack of guarantees and constant intimidation and attacks of which we are victims are making it increasingly difficult to carry out our human rights work."
  • See also:

    Take Action: Harassment of Colombian Human Rights Lawyer

    Colombian State Found Guilty of Killing Lawyer

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