Cali 22 April, 2018
‘…provide special protection to the people who are in a situation of extraordinary or extreme risk of suffering damages to their life, integrity, liberty and personal safety or because of their position or work and to carry out the execution of plans, programs, projects, actions and strategies oriented for that purpose’ Colombian government Decree 4065 of 2011
We the undersigned organizations denounce the wave of operations to carry out mass detentions of human rights defenders and social leaders by Colombian state security forces (specifically it is presumed the police agencies SIJIN, DIJIN and GOES) across southwest Colombia on April 20, 21 and 22, specifically in the Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.
These captures have been targetted especially at social leaders and activists who represent communities across the afroementioned departments, demonstrating that this is another method of repressing and persecuting social leaders. It is important to remember that this comes in a context in which between 1 January, 2016 and 27 of February 2018, 282 social leaders were murdered, including land activists, environmentalists, human rights defenders, journalists; according to affirmations of the Human Rights Ombudsman Carlos Alfonzo Negret (El Pais newspaper, March 1 of 2018). The leaders are being accused of various crimes relating to belonging to or collaborating with the ELN guerrilla organisation, again demonstrating the systematic stigmatisation of social leaders in Colombia.
The nature of the detentions and the circumstances surrounding them are of particular concern for human rights organisations, given that they violate due process and the right to freedom set forth in article 28 of the political constitution. For a considerable time, the whereabouts and wellbeing of some of the people who were arrested was unknown. Until now human rights organisations have registered more than 30 people who have been detained, including several leaders belonging to Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. Eight of them belong to the municipality of Samaniego-Nariño, where the detainees include an ex mayor and former human rights ombudsman.
On April 21, hearings on charge imputation began. As a result of these hearings, only 2 people have been released: Andres Felipe Zamora (partner of the indigenous vice-governor Alejandra Dizu) and Maria Liliana Yela Zambrano of the council of the Awa indigenous community San Juan de los Pastos.
We also call for proper treatment of the detainees, who have denounced not having minimal humanitarian conditions, such as adequate food and a place to sleep.
We also denounce that the judicial hearings are being carried out behind the backs of human rights defenders who have been denied entry to the hearings and proceedings, which are public in nature.
Facts and detainees:
The following are the detainees who have been identified for the moment:
– Alejandra Dizú: Vice Governor of the Pueblo Nuevo Town Council and indigenous representative to the court of justice in Valle del Cauca. Arrested at 6:30 a.m. in her residence located in the city of Cali with her partner. At the time of the arrest, she was with her 7-year-old daughter, who was also taken away by authorities. She was later collected by relatives after 5 hours of not knowing her whereabouts.
– Sara Liliana Quiñones Valencia and Tulia Marys Valencia: Community Council Alto Mira, leaders from the Proceso de Comunidades Negras (Black Communities Process), victims on two occasions of forced displacement. Sara Valencia has precautionary protection measures granted by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, given the level of threat against her life. She is displaced from her community and as such has been based in the city of Cali. She was arrested at 6:30 am in her residence located along with her mother.
– Andrés Felipe Zambrano: Beneficiary of mnesty law 1820 of 2016. Accused of belonging to the ELN organization, released by the 25th Municipal Penal Court.
– Harold Montifar: leader of the Minga for Peace organisation in Nariño, former mayor of the Municipality of Samaniego. Detained in the municipality of Samaniego Nariño.
– Pedro Dorado. Former mayor of the Municipality of Samaniego, municipality of Nariño, where he was detained (see Annex 1)
– Ricardo Dorado. Former mayor of the Municpio de Samaniego – Nariño. Detained in this municipality
– Yamile Montenegro. Former mayor of the Municpio de Samaniego – Nariño. Detained in this municipality
– Darío Dorado. Detained in Samaniego Nariño
– Porfirio Madroñero Former councillor in Samaniego, Nariño. Detained in Samaniego Nariño
– Alveiro Betancourt: Former human rights ombudsman, – Municipality of Samaniego Nariño.
– Manuel Molina Detained in municipality of Guachavez- Nariño
– Alexander Garzón: Lawyer – ex human rights ombudsman of the municipality of Ricaurte
– Almikar Obando: Ex treasurer of the council of Santa Bárbara de Iscuande. Captured on April 21 at the airport in Cali allegedly for having transported members of the ELN.
– Oscar Betancourt: Ex ombudsman of the municipality of Samaniego, Nariño
– Aldo Higon detained today 22 April, member of the community council of Sta Rita -La Vega –Cauca.
– Diomelina Muñoz, una mujer de la tercera edad.
The hearings of the leaders are continuing in the city of Cali, and at the time of writing there is no clarity over their situation. They continue deprived of their liberty.
We call on the national and international community to accompany this request and urgently demand guarantees for life and for the exercise of the defense of human rights.
ASOCIACIÓN NOMADESC, UNIVERSIDAD INTERCULTURAL DE LOS PUEBLOS, PROCESO DE COMUNIDADES NEGRAS -PCN, MOVICE, SINTRAUNICOL, CONGRESO DE LOS PUEBLOS.
Please direct your communications to:
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS
PRESIDENTE DE LA REPUBLICA
Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño Bogotá.
Fax. 5662071 www.presidencia.gov.co
LUIS CARLOS VILLEGAS
MINISTRO DE DEFENSA
Cr 54 26-25 Can Colombia, Bogotá́
Tel: (57) (1) 3150111 www.mindefensa.gov.co
JUAN FERNANDO CRISTO
MINISTERIO DEL INTERIOR Y DE JUSTICIA
Carrera 9. No. 14-10, D.C.-Bogotá́- Colombia
Sur América PBX: 57+(1) 444 31 00 – www.correo.minjusticia.gov.co
Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 (Ciudad Salitre)
Conmutador: 57(1) 570 20 00 – 57(1) 414 90 00
Con copia a:
DELEGADO DE LA ALTA COMISIONADA DE NACIONES UNIDAS PARA LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
JOSÉ MIGUEL VIVANCO –
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S
COMISIÓN INTERAMERICANA DE DERECHOS HUMANOS (CIDH)