(Translated by Kevin Funk, a CSN volunteer translator )
COL 022 / 1107 / OBS 140
Illegal Searches / Acts of intimidation and harassment
November 8, 2007
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT, according to its acronym in French) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, also according to its acronym in French), URGENTLY seeks your intervention in the following situation in Colombia.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has received with concern news from the Corporation for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights "REINICIAR" about illegal searches that were made of its headquarters, acts which took place in the city of Bogot á.
In accord with the information received, on November 6, 2006, in the morning, members of the "REINICIAR" Corporation affirmed that someone had entered the organization’s offices in downtown Bogot á during the weekend, upon finding the locks on several desks and filing cabinets forced open, the safe opened, and a black bracelet in the shape of an "8" on one of the drawers. The relevant authorities were immediately informed of the occurrences.
The members of REINICIAR, with the support of the Technical Investigations Body (CTI, according to its acronym in Spanish), were able to establish that they had stolen two cell phones, 2,700,000 Colombian pesos in cash, and the file from the internal affairs agency on the forced disappearance, in September 1985, of María Eugenia Castañeda, member of the Patriotic Union Party, in which members of the security forces had been implicated. However, another sum of money that was in the safe was not robbed.
The Observatory recalls that members of the REINICIAR Corporation were on several occasions victims of threats, and acts of harassment and intimidation  <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftn1>. For example, on March 30, 2007, REINICIAR was informed about the existence of a plan to assassinate its director, Mrs. Jahel Quiroga Carillo, financed by the paramilitary group "Bloque Capital," which operates in Bogot á  <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftn2>.
REINICIAR, whose members – including Mrs. Quiroga Carrillo – have enjoyed temporary precautionary security measures provided by CIDH since March 2002, filed a complaint with the authorities.
The Observatory condemns these repeated acts which are framed in a context of constant intimidation and harassment against human rights defenders in Colombia. The Observatory declares its extreme concern for the serious situation of insecurity in which human rights defenders, social leaders, opposition leaders, trade unionists, and the displaced, are often the objects of persecution and stigmatization because of their work in denouncing human rights violations of which they are victims as are the organizations to which they belong and the ones that they accompany.
Please contact the Colombian authorities, exhorting them to:
i. urgently adopt the appropriate methods to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of all members of the REINICIAR Corporation, of all members of their respective families, and in general of all the members of civil society organizations in Colombia;
ii. immediately carry out an exhaustive and impartial investigation into the illegal searches and particularly the removal of all the important information and work material of the REINICIAR Corporation, with the goal of identifying the responsible parties and bringing them before an independent, fair, and impartial court, and applying to them the legal and administrative sanctions set forth in the law;
iii. put an end to all types of harassment and violence against human rights defenders in Colombia;
iv. assure the application of what is stipulated in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, particularly in its reference to the protection of the rights of all people " individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" (Art. 1) as well as in relation to the duty of the state to guarantee "the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration." (Art. 12.2)
v. generally, guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental liberties throughout the country in accordance with international human rights norms ratified by Colombia.
Geneva-Paris, November 8, 2007.
Please inform us of any action you undertake, referencing the code from this appeal in your response.
The Observatory, a joint program of the OMCT and FIDH, is dedicated to protecting human rights defenders and providing them with concrete, daily help in whatever form possible.
Misión Permanente de Colombia ante las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra. Chemin du Champ d’Anier, 17-19, 1209 Ginebra, Suiza. FAX: + 41.22.791.07.87; TEL.:+ 41.22.798.45.55. E-mail: email@example.com
· -Sr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Misión Diplomática en Bruselas: FAX: +32.2.646.54.91, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Presidente de la República, Cra. 8 # 7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Santa Fe de Bogotá. Fax:+57.1.566.20.71: email@example.com
· Sr. Francisco Santos, Vicepresidente de la República, firstname.lastname@example.org
Téls.: +571334.45.07, +573.7720130, E-mail: email@example.com <mailto:mail:firstname.lastname@example.org> ;
· Dr. Carlos Franco, Director del Programa Presidencial de dd.hh y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario (DIH). E-mail: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
· Observatorio DDHH de Vicepresidencia: email@example.com;
· Dr. Fernando Ibarra, Asesor del Programa Presidencial de dd.hh y de DIH. Tel.: +57.1.336.03.11, FAX: +57.1.337.46.67, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz, Defensor del Pueblo, Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá. Fax: + 57.1.640.04.91 E-mail: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
· Doctor Mario Hernán Iguarán Arana, Fiscal General de la Nación, Diagonal 22-B # 52-01, Bogotá. Fax: +57.1.570.20.00; +57.1.414.90.00,
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
· Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón, Procurador General de la Nación, Cra. 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá. Fax: +57.1.342.97.23; +571.284.79.49 Fax: +57.1.342.97.23;
E-mail: email@example.com, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
· Dr. Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, Ministro de la Defensa, Avenida El Dorado con Cra. 52 CAN, Bogotá. Fax: +22.214.171.124.74; E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
 <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftnref1> See the Observatory’s 2006 annual report.
 <mhtml:mid://00000017/#_ftnref2> See Urgent Appeal COL 008 / 0407 / OBS 033, sent April 12, 2007.
Colombia Support Network
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phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621