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Colombia

    July 09, 2015

    The authorities must respect due process and ensure an impartial investigation in the case of 15 people, most of them human rights defenders and student activists, arrested yesterday in the capital Bogotá in connection with last week’s explosions in the city, Amnesty International said today.

    On 2 July, two small explosive devices were detonated in Bogotá leaving several people injured but no fatalities. The authorities attributed the attack to the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN).

    In setting off these explosives in the city, with the high risk to civilian life that this entailed, those responsible clearly showed a complete disregard for human life.
    The authorities have a duty to investigate any criminal activity and bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility through an independent and impartial process which conforms to international law and standards.

    March 31, 2015
    By Rosemary Ganley, Group 46

    Three lively community groups came together in Peterborough on March 22 to meet Father Alberto Franco, a Redemptorist priest and dedicated human rights defender from Bogota, Colombia.

    Father Franco leads the Colombian Justice and Peace Commission in a dangerous and unstable atmosphere. He is known to Amnesty International as the subject of an Urgent Action appeal two years ago. He was threatened many time and shot at once. He smiles as he admits that, at the behest of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, he now travels with guards.

    Father Franco’s work involves accompanying peasants and indigenous people in the region of Choco in northern Colombia as they strive, first to survive in a warring area, and then to return home and re-establish communities of peace. His office provides legal and social-psychological support, education and communication for exploited groups as they assert their rights to livelihood and stability.

    March 25, 2015

    The long term viability of any peace agreement risks being seriously undermined if those responsible for human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, are not brought to justice, Amnesty International will tell the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) today.

    Despite the two year-long peace process, involving the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), civilians continue to bear the brunt of the harmful consequences of hostilities. Indigenous People, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities are particularly badly affected.

    “While the UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva today, across Colombia civilians are still being threatened and killed. Thousands continue to be forced from their homes and lands because of the armed conflict. Very few of those suspected of criminal responsibility have ever been brought to justice. This cannot go on,” said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s Colombia Researcher.

    January 21, 2015

    Thousands of people have been forcibly evicted from on and around Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh since 2007, when the government leased their land to a company for development. © REUTERS/Samrang Pring

    Ten women housing rights defenders and a Buddhist monk, all jailed after short summary trials and some suffering from serious health issues, must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty international said ahead of their appeal hearing tomorrow, 22 January.

    The 11 were arrested after two related peaceful protests in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh in November last year.

    “These activists are victims of the Cambodian authorities’ relentless crackdown on peaceful protests – they should never have been prosecuted in the first place, let alone jailed,” said Janice Beanland, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Cambodia.

    November 27, 2014

    Released 27 November 2014 05:01 GMT

    Threats and killings coupled with the weak implementation of flawed legislation are scuppering the Colombian government’s promise to return millions of hectares of land illegally snatched from peasant farmers, Indigenous People and Afro-descendant communities, said Amnesty International today.

    In a new report A land title is not enough: Ensuring sustainable land restitution in Colombia, Amnesty International explores how the Victims and Land Restitution Law (Law 1448), implemented in 2012, is failing the vast majority of people whose lands were stolen. Many have been unable to return home due to ongoing threats of violence and the slowness of the restitution process. 

    “Colombia has one of the highest levels of forced displacement in the world and it is patently clear that the authorities are not doing enough to ensure that stolen lands are effectively returned to their rightful occupants,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia Researcher, Amnesty International.

    August 21, 2014

     

    A trusted partner of Amnesty Canada urgently needs our support

    By Kathy Price
    Colombia Campaigner, Amnesty International

    The terrible news came via a skype call from Colombia. Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, the big-hearted, creative, hard-working advocate for the rights of threatened Indigenous peoples and collaborator with Amnesty Canada, told me about receiving an envelope containing a death threat from the notorious Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles), a feared paramilitary group.

    The message warned that Juan Pablo was now a paramilitary target and would be killed for his work with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), a coalition with whom Amnesty International Canada has worked closely in recent years.

    The death threat had been delivered to Juan Pablo as he waited for public transit near his home, en route to work, making clear that the paramilitaries had been monitoring his movements and knew where to find him.

    June 19, 2014
    Street protest for the survival of Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    By Kathy Price, Colombia Campaigner

    It was two years ago that courageous Indigenous women and men in Colombia sent photo messages to Canada to tell us about deadly assaults on their lives and lands.

    Photo messages like the one from this Kankuamo woman - who writes "We want to live in peace on our lands" - put faces on an acute yet hidden human rights emergency. The very survival of more than a third of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, including the Kankuamo, is in jeopardy amidst attacks, forced displacement and the imposition of resource extraction projects that are increasing with promotion by Canada’s free trade agreement with Colombia.

    Indigenous rights defenders in Colombia, many of them threatened with death for their vital work, urged us to speak out with them. In attention-grabbing numbers, you have done just that!

    June 09, 2014

    The historic declaration agreed between the Colombian government and the country’s main guerrilla group, FARC, will not contribute to a lasting peace unless those responsible for human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, are brought to justice, said Amnesty International.

    The 10 principles on victims’ rights contains no commitment to bring to justice those who displaced, tortured, killed, abducted, disappeared or raped millions of Colombians over the past five decades.

    “The fact that the government and the FARC have made a commitment to place victims’ rights at the centre of the peace talks is a great step forward. However, the devil is in the detail. Any agreement that fails to ensure those suspected of criminal responsibility for abuses face the courts will be incomplete and fragile,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia researcher at Amnesty International.

    April 29, 2014
    Canadians deliver 65,000 messages in support of Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    by Kathy Price, Campaigner for the Americas, Amnesty International Canada

    A message that can't be ignored

    Today we brought the faces and voices of concerned Canadians to Parliament Hill, along with an urgent message: Canada's free trade deal with Colombia creates special obligations to protect the rights and survival of threatened Indigenous peoples in the South American country.

    On the steps of Parliament, we displayed beautiful, heartfelt photo messages from activists across Canada. Then we went inside to present the government with a box jam-packed with petitions - thousands and thousands of them. In total, more than 65,000 people signed actions calling for immediate measures to protect the rights and survival of Indigenous peoples on their lands in Colombia.

    April 29, 2014

    Released 00:01 GMT 30 April, 2014

    Colombia: Presidential candidates must champion human rights

    Human rights and the fight to end impunity in Colombia must be a high priority for all candidates in the presidential elections scheduled for 25 May, Amnesty International said today in a public letter addressed to the five contenders.

    “Human rights should be the cornerstone of any political platform, especially given the backdrop of the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Havana,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Director for the Americas.

    “A long-sought opportunity for peace may be looming, but the next president of Colombia must not bargain away human rights in the negotiations. The candidates should be clear that a lasting peace can only be built on justice and respect for human rights.”

    April 28, 2014

    (Ottawa, ON) – Two weeks before the Canadian government must submit its 2014 report on the human rights effects of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Amnesty International and the Assembly of First Nations will hold a press conference to speak out about the worsening human rights emergency that threatens the very survival of scores of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, many living in areas earmarked for resource extraction.

    The press conference in Ottawa comes a day after Indigenous, labour and environmental organizations in Bogota, Colombia make public a report expressing concern about the impact of Canadian mining projects and underscoring the responsibilities of Canada to ensure Canadian-based companies uphold human rights.

    April 07, 2014

    Over 9,000 Amnesty supporters have spoken up about the grave danger facing Flaminio Onogama Gutiérrez, following death threats and the assassination of two of his family members.

    April 07, 2014

    The Canadian Parliament must take a close look at the extreme violence facing Indigenous peoples in Colombia.

    Canada has entered into a free trade agreement with Colombia which promotes investment by Canadian companies seeking to benefit from a resource extraction boom in the South American country. Under the agreement, the government of Canada is obliged to submit an annual report to Parliament on human rights effects.

    It's time for Canada to take this responsibility seriously.

    Amnesty International has documented a pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Colombia who oppose the imposition of economic projects, including resource extraction, that will impact on their land.

    Here's one example.

    Flaminio Onogama Gutiérrez is a prominent Indigenous human rights defender who visited Canada in 2010 to draw attention to the crisis facing Indigenous peoples in Colombia.

    March 25, 2014

    Colombia’s government is failing to address the country’s critical human rights situation said Amnesty International today ahead of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ annual review of the country.  

    Despite on-going peace talks in Havana between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group, human rights violations and abuses continue unabated.

    Tomorrow, High Commissioner Navi Pillay will present her annual review of the situation in Colombia to the UN Human Rights Council.

    “The peace talks represent the best opportunity in over a decade to put an end to the 50-year-old armed conflict. However, the warring parties continue to be responsible for appalling serious human rights violations and abuses. These include forced displacement, extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, abductions, and enforced disappearances,” said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s researcher on Colombia.

    March 24, 2014

    Human rights, development, and labour groups have serious misgivings about the Canadian government’s commitment to carry out a meaningful assessment of the human rights impact of its controversial free trade agreement with Colombia, as is legally stipulated by annual reporting requirements in the agreement.

    Concerns were heightened when it came to light that government analysis for the 2014 report, due on or before May 15, would be based in part on an online consultation that lasts just six working days. A call for submissions by “interested parties” was quietly posted on a government webpage on March 19, 2014. The deadline given for submissions is six working days later on March 26, 2014.  Canadian organizations with a long history of involvement with Colombia had been asking government officials for months to share information about the plans for consultation, including timelines, deadlines and how to participate. These details were not provided until after the unreasonably short consultation period had actually been launched.

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