Urgent Action: Colombia, Dec 2015

Colombian Human Rights Defenders Threatened

Urge Colombian authorities to take action to ensure the safety of human rights leaders

CoDevelopment Canada partner NOMADESC has reported alarming threats against two human rights leaders in Buenaventura, Colombia, Danelly Estupiñan Valencia and Rocio del Pilar Segura. The threats appear to originate from paramilitaries linked to organized crime.

Human rights defender Danelly Estupiñan Valencia received a text message on November 23rd saying “Danelly, you are very close to the end” (Danelly esta [sic] muy cerca del final). Later that evening while speaking with a friend on her phone, a voice interrupted their conversation saying “We know where you are, we know where you are” (Sabemos dónde estás, sabemos dónde estás). In a separate incident on November 20th, community leader Rocio del Pilar Segura and her family were visited several times by three youth, apparently paramilitaries linked to organized crime, after she took down a street banner erected by TCBUEN, the company building a port container terminal in Buenaventura.

Buenaventura is a city on the Pacific coast of Colombia, and is currently undergoing a massive port expansion. Many people living in the neighbourhoods earmarked for construction of port or tourism infrastructure projects have been killed or disappeared by paramilitary groups operating in the city despite a significant presence of security forces. Human rights defenders exposing the human rights crisis in the region face repeated death threats.

To see an example of the type of community activism and organizing in which Danelly Estupiñan Valencia is involved, please view the linked video, where members of the Buenaventura community protest the lack of potable water in the city.

Both Danelly and Rocío recently accompanied communities in the neighbourhood of La Inmaculada, whose homes have suffered cracks or collapsed entirely due to the vibrations caused by containers being moved and the construction of the Buenaventura Container Terminal – TCBUEN. In September 2015, they accompanied members of the community who presented 106 cases to the President of Colombia and other authorities requesting that construction be halted and that the communities’ right to free prior and informed consent, housing, healthcare and education be respected.

Please consider sending a letter calling on authorities to:

  • Take all measures deemed appropriate by Danelly Estupiñan Valencia and Rocio del Pilar Segura to guarantee their safety;
  • Order a full and impartial investigation into the threats against Danelly Estupiñan Valencia and Rocio del Pilar Segura, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice; and
  • Take decisive action to dismantle paramilitary and organized crime groups operating in the city, and break any links with the security forces.

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