By César Andrés Solarte Macana, PRENSA RURAL, February 19, 2024

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The regional human rights corporation, CREDHOS, is being threatened again.

The Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights in Magdalena Medio (Credhos) experienced a disturbing increase in threats last year, according to recent reports. This organization has been fundamental in the defense of human rights in a region historically affected by violence and armed conflict. Now it’s facing a series of challenges that are putting its work and the safety of its members in danger.

The increasingly serious threats include direct intimidation of the leaders and defenders of human rights affiliated with Credhos. These people are courageous men and women, who have been on the front lines of the struggle for justice and the protection of vulnerable communities in Magdalena Medio. Nevertheless, their courage has been combated by acts of violence and harassment by those trying to silence their voices and stop their work of defending life and dignity.

Besides the individual threats, the Corporation itself has been the object of systematic attacks. The members of the board of directors have received direct messages on their telephones and threats from groups like the FARC dissidents have circulated on social networks, and also threats from the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces (AGC). Credhos continues to receive threats from the armed organizations in Magdalena Medio.

It’s important to emphasize that these threats don’t occur at random; they are systematic activities intended to stop their complaints and the organizing activities that Credhos is carrying out in defense of life in the region. Magdalena Medio has historically been one of the regions most affected by the armed conflict in Colombia, and in spite of the efforts to build peace, armed groups and criminal organizations that are trying to impose control by violence persist. In this context, the work of organizations like Credhos is vital to guarantee that victims are listened to, that justice is done, and that reconciliation and a durable peace are promoted.

In recent years, Credhos has been promoting the creation of different human rights committees in the different municipalities where they are doing their work. They are going to be creating, or are creating, and are strengthening committees in Puerto Wilches and Sabana de Torres in Santander; Yondó and Puerto Berrio in Antioquia; Cantagallo, San Pablo, and Santa Rosa in Sur de Bolivar; as well as strengthening and fortifying and accompanying other organizing processes in defense of clean water and the environment, like Fedepesan in Barrancabermeja.

Facing this escalation of threats, it’s fundamental that the authorities of public order in the nation, in the region, and in the localities take urgent measures to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders, and for the safety of organizations that are working for the integrated defense of the rights of the communities. It’s necessary to have a thorough investigation of the acts of violence and to bring those responsible to justice. It’s also necessary to furnish adequate support for the threatened organizations, so that they can continue their important work without the fear of reprisals.

In a press conference on February 2 of this year, Iván Madero, in his home office, requested the Regional and National Conference for Guarantees to consider the outlook for human rights and the violations of International Humanitarian Law, and the possible actions that should be taken in view of the humanitarian crisis confronting this important region.

The Credhos Corporation, in its communication on February 14, after the grenade attack on one of its officials, who at the time was not at his residence, but the attack had affected his family, issued a call: “The communities and residents of this region are living in constant uncertainty, anxiety, and pain. All of this, because of the impassivity of the authorities. It’s NOT ENOUGH, again and again with the SECURITY COUNCILS and the PRESS CONFERENCES; the civilian authorities, the police, and the military are very well aware of what’s happening in Barrancabermeja and in this region. Effective results are needed, concrete results that furnish guarantees for our lives and our human dignity. Those who are silent are complicit when no actions result against all this criminality.”

Ultimately, the work of Credhos and other similar organizations is not only essential for the protection of human rights in Colombia; it’s also a reminder of the importance of defending the fundamental values of justice, dignity, and life. In times of adversity, it’s crucial that the international community join in solidarity with those who are risking their lives for the common good, and that we redouble our efforts to build a future where human rights are respected and protected.

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