Für das Recht, die Menschenrechte zu verteidigen! International campaign for the right to defend human rights

OIDHACO Drohungen und die feindselige Stimmung gegen MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen haben kolumbianische und internationale Organisationen veranlasst, eine Kampagne für das Recht, die Menschenrechte zu verteidigen zu beginnen. Start war am 09. September in Bogota in Begleitung der UN-Sonderberichterstatterin für MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen, Sra. Margaret Sekaggya. Auch zahlreiche deutsche Organisationen haben die Erklärung unterzeichnet. Fünf Themen stehen im Mittelpunkt der […]


Drohungen und die feindselige Stimmung gegen MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen haben kolumbianische und internationale Organisationen veranlasst, eine Kampagne für das Recht, die Menschenrechte zu verteidigen zu beginnen. Start war am 09. September in Bogota in Begleitung der UN-Sonderberichterstatterin für MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen, Sra. Margaret Sekaggya. Auch zahlreiche deutsche Organisationen haben die Erklärung unterzeichnet. Fünf Themen stehen im Mittelpunkt der Empfehlungen an die kolumbianische Regierung:

Beendigung der Straflosigkeit von Verbrechen an MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen, Mißbrauch der Geheimdienste gegen sie, die systematische Stigmatisierung durch Staatsvertreter, haltlose juristische Verfolgung sowie Probleme beim Schutzprogramm für MenschenrechtsverteidigerInnen.


International campaign for the right to defend human rights


“Everyone has the right, 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.”
Article 1, United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, December 1998.

Those who defend human rights and the rule of law in Colombia have always been victims of systematic stigmatisation, threats, sexual violence, unfounded criminal proceedings, violent attacks and killings carried out by all actors in the conflict: state security forces, paramilitaries and guerrillas. Colombia continues to register some of the highest levels of attacks against human rights defenders in the world.

However, the situation has now reached a new level of crisis. In April 2009, documents were made public which show the existence of a massive illegal espionage operation carried out by Colombia’s intelligence agency, the Administrative Security Department (DAS), which reports directly to the President, against those who promote and defend human rights, whose objective, according to those responsible, was to “restrict or neutralize their work”.

The DAS has not only been intercepting human rights defenders’ private telephone calls illegally, it has also been following defenders and taking photographs of them and their families. Police units and the National Army also use intelligence operations to restrict the work of defenders. This “strategic intelligence” contravenes democratic principles and constitutes an attack on human rights in Colombia.

This is only the most recent of a long list of unacceptable practices, including the ‘parapolitics’ scandal (the infiltration by paramilitary groups of the Colombian congress), extrajudicial executions, and attacks against the Supreme Court, all of which call into question whether the political will exists to guarantee the rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights for all Colombians. It is important to note that all of these scandals were exposed by the advocacy of human rights defenders working for truth, justice and peace.

Who are human rights defenders?
A human rights defender is anybody who, individually or with others, professionally or voluntarily, non-violently promotes or protects human rights (civil, political, economic, social and cultural). Trade union leaders, journalists, academics, teachers, artists, church personnel and clergy, lawyers, judges, members of non-governmental organisations and social movement, leaders of indigenous and afro-descendent communities, women’s and LGBT* rights activists – all are human rights defenders.

What does it mean to defend human rights?
Defending human rights is a moral and humanist responsibility aimed at saving lives, preventing grave human rights violations and ensuring that violence does not remain in impunity. Defenders seek to strengthen the rule of law and call for changes in government and state policies.

* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people

Human rights defenders should be free to condemn human rights violations, to express themselves freely, to carry out their investigative and legal work, to defend victims of violence, to protect the civilian population, to demand respect for International Humanitarian Law, and to promote peace.

Now is the time for us to take action for the Right to Defend Human Rights in Colombia.

To this end, this campaign seeks to achieve concrete changes for defenders in the following areas:

1. End impunity for violations against human rights defenders
The only substantial way to end threats, harassment and killings of human rights defenders is to carry out impartial investigations to identify the perpetrators, including the intellectual authors, and to prosecute them, thus sending a clear signal that violence and persecution will be punished.

2. End the misuse of state intelligence
Defamatory and false information about human right defenders is being held in civil, police and military intelligence files. This information is used to persecute, threaten and delegitimize human rights defenders. It is also used to underpin unfounded criminal investigations of defenders and, sometimes, to assassinate them.

3. End systematic stigmatisation
Public statements by high-ranking government officials, including the President of Colombia, aim to discredit the legitimate work of human rights defenders and suggest links between defenders and guerrilla groups, putting defenders at even greater risk.

4. End unfounded criminal proceedings
In Colombia a new form of persecution is emerging: unfounded criminal proceedings. These proceedings are usually based on false witness testimony, manipulated evidence and unsubstantiated intelligence reports and frequently lead to the unlawful privation of defenders’ liberty.

5. Structurally improve the protection programmes for people at risk
It is important that the Colombian state offers protection programmes. However, those that exist have proven insufficient and in some instances have been used to obtain information that is later used against the very people supposedly being protected. They require significant restructuring in consultation with their beneficiaries. We unequivocally reject all those practices which violate the human dignity of human rights defenders. We call on all armed actors (state security forces, paramilitaries and guerrilla groups) to respect their legal obligations. We insist on the need for human rights to be respected and upheld by the State, because this is the only way to build a just, peaceful and democratic Colombia.



Recommendations for the Colombian government and state

1. End impunity for violations against human rights defenders

1.1. The Prosecutor General’s National Unit for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law should investigate and centralize all complaints, threats and human rights violations against human rights defenders and:
· Identify command responsibility for the crimes;
· Follow-up the cases until justice is served;
· Periodically publicize the results of finalized investigations.

1.2. All investigations of violations of human rights defenders that involve the armed forces should be presented before a civilian court and not in a military court, as repeatedly stated by Constitutional Court jurisprudence, the Inter-American System of Human Rights and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

1.3. Prosecutors should be removed from military brigades to ensure independence and impartiality in their investigations and to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders and the victims that they defend.

2. End the misuse of state intelligence

2.1. Guarantee that human rights defenders have access to information contained in intelligence files, as specified in the Constitution and the Habeas Data Law (2008).

2.2. Guarantee that intelligence is not collected about human rights defenders simply on account of their work. Any information collected in this way is illegal, as stated in Sentence T-1037 (2008) of the Supreme Court, and should therefore not be utilised, for example as evidence in a criminal trial.

2.3. State authorities, coordinated by the Inspector General’s Office and supervised by the United Nations, should revise intelligence reports in order to exclude specious information that may incriminate or prejudge individuals, particularly human rights defenders.

2.4. The Prosecutor General’s Office should investigate the unwarranted and illegal use of intelligence information and show immediate and concrete advances in the criminal and disciplinary investigations being carried out against all of the government officials involved in the DAS wiretapping scandal, from those who gave the orders to those who executed them.

3. End systematic stigmatisation

3.1. The President of the Republic and other important government officials should publicly recognize, in a highly visible manner, the legitimacy and importance of the work of human rights defenders, refrain from making declarations that discredit their work, and condemn attacks against them.

3.2. The Inspector General’s Office should take official disciplinary action against all government officials who with their public comments, actions, or omissions, promote or permit human rights violations against defenders, publish periodic reports on the matter, enforce compliance with Presidential Directives 11 of 1997, 07 of 1999, 07 of 2001 and Defense Ministerial Directive 09 of 2003, and carry out preventative training of public officials.

3.3. The President of Colombia should promulgate a new Presidential Directive ordering all authorities to recognize, respect and protect the work of human rights defenders.

4. End unfounded criminal proceedings

4.1. The Prosecutor General should create a special prosecutorial unit to coordinate the review of all criminal investigations against human rights defenders. The unit should be able to quickly vet the investigation for compliance with due process standards. All cases found to be specious should be closed immediately.

4.2. Criminal and disciplinary investigations should be initiated against all prosecutors or other government officials that have breached the law by falsely investigating human rights defenders and those found guilty should be punished accordingly.

4.3 Prosecutors should reject patently implausible witness testimony, refrain from influencing witness testimony, and carefully evaluate witness testimony from excombatants and informants who receive reintegration or other benefits.

5. Structurally improve the protection programmes for people at risk

5.1. The protection program should be revised, and any changes should be made in direct consultation with human rights defenders to ensure that they address the needs of defenders countrywide.

A) The Justice and Interior Ministry should create a special unit to manage the protection program for the beneficiaries, which should be designed in coordination with the program’s beneficiaries.
B) A mechanism should be created to guarantee that bodyguards or drivers assigned to the protection program do not have, and have never had, ties with illegal armed groups, and that they do not use their position to carry out intelligence gathering work on defenders.
C) While evaluating the risks faced by individual defenders, a range of factors should be taken into account. Special attention should be paid to the high profile of defenders in leadership positions, the type of work undertaken by the defender, and relevant reports by the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Early Warning System, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, social organizations, and other NGOs.
D) The Justice and Interior Ministry should provide immediate and temporary protection (within 48 hours of receiving the request) to the person or organization seeking protection, while their security situation is being evaluated.
E) The State should not contract private security companies to carry out the work of protecting people at risk.

5.2. The Justice and Interior Ministry’s protection program, once amended and revised, should receive sufficient funds to guarantee that the security measures are effectively implemented.


Officially supported by 207 organisations, from 23 countries(as of 9 Sept 2009):

– Amnesty International
– Human Rights Watch (HRW)
– Front Line
– Human Rights First
– Observatorio para la Protección de los Defensores de Derechos Humanos (programa conjunto de la Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos – FIDH – y de la Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura – OMCT)
– International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR)
– International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
– DIAL (Inter Agency Dialogue in Colombia)
– PODEC (Plataforma de Organizaciones de Desarrollo Europeas en Colombia)
– Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
– Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

Colombia (69)
– Coordinación Colombia Europa Estados Unidos (CCEEU)
– Plataforma Colombiana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo (Capítulo Colombia PIDHDD)
– Alianza de Organizaciones Sociales y Afines por una Cooperación Internacional para la Paz y la Democracia en Colombia
– Asamblea Permanente de la Sociedad Civil por la Paz
– Programa Somos Defensores (Minga – CINEP – Ben Posta – CCJ)
– Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP)
– Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento (CODHES)
– Red Nacional de Iniciativas Ciudadanas por la Paz y contra la Guerra (REDEPAZ)
– Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
– Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (FCSPP)
– Organización Femenina Popular (OFP)
– Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR)
– Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP)
– Asociación Minga
– Corporación Nuevo Arco Iris (CNAI)
– Red Ecuménica de Colombia
– Corporación Unidades Democráticas para el Desarrollo (CEUDES)
– Corporación Compromiso (para el Desarrollo del Oriente)
– Fundación Esperanza
– Podion
– Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro
– Observatorio Iglesia y Sociedad en Colombia
– Alianza Iniciativa de Mujeres Colombianas por Paz (IMP)
– Fundación Contravía
– Fundación San Isidro
– Fundación Mujer y Futuro
– Corporación Para la Vida Mujeres que Crean
– Vicaria del Sur – Diócesis de Florencia (Caquetá)
– Centro de Promoción y Desarrollo (Ceprod)
– Equipo de Asesorías de Proyectos de Desarrollo Integral Comunitario (APRODIC)
– Corporación Social para la Asesoría y Capacitación Comunitaria (COSPACC)
– Movimiento de Hijos e Hijas por la Memoria y contra la Impunidad
– Comisión Internacional Campesina – Asociación Nacional de Usuarios Campesinos Unidad y Reconstrucción (ANUC-UR)
– Corporación Cactus
– Observatorio Local de Derechos Humanos – Usme (OLDHU)
– Corporación Pensamiento y Acción Social (PAS)
– Centro de Estudios del Trabajo (Cedetrabajo)
– Asociación Colectivo Mujeres al Derecho
– Conferencia Nacional de Organizaciones Afro-Colombianas (CNOA)
– Asociación Social Comunidad y Vida
– Corporación Sisma Mujer
– Fundación para la Cooperación Synergia
– Corporación AVRE (Acompañamiento psicosocial y atención en salud mental a víctimas de violencia política)
– Fundación Foro Nacional por Colombia
– Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica (CIASE)
– Agenda Caribe
– Corporación Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Perez (CCA)
– Corporación Jurídica Libertad
– Medios para la Paz (MPP)
– Fundacion Menonita Colombiana para el Desarrollo (Mencoldes)
– Comité de Impulso de Organizaciones de Víctimas y Derechos Humanos de Nariño
– Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado de Nariño (MOVICENAR)
– Fundación Aldea Global
– Fundación Desarrollo y Paz (FUNDEPAZ)
– Fundación Bitácora Ciudadana
– Pastoral Social de Ipiales
– Fundación Social Parroquial de Ipiales (FUNDASOP)
– Fundación para el Desarrollo Integral y la Cooperación Internacional (FUNDECOIN Colombia-Ecuador)
– Agencia de Desarrollo Integral Zona Sur (ADIZSUR)
– Federación de Asociaciones de los Municipios del Sur (Fedeasur)
– Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), Arauca
– Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), Nariño
– Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH), Atlántico
– Lutheran World Federation (Colombia Program)
– Corporación Ecofondo
– Red Nacional de Mujeres
– Red Departamental de Mujeres Chocoanas
– Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC)
– Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ)

– Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos Democracia y Desarrollo (PIDHDD)
– Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI)
– Alianza Social Continental (ASC)
– Asociación Latinoamericana de Organismo de Promoción al Desarrollo (ALOP)
– Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio (CREAS)
– CEPALC (Centro Popular para América Latina de Comunicación)

– La Red Nacional de Participación Ciudadana y Control Social (Red PCCS)

– Iglesia Episcopal Anglicana de Brasil
– Iglesia Presbiteriana Independiente de Brasil
– Consejo Nacional de Iglesias Cristianas (CONIC)
– Coordinadora Ecuménica de Servicio (CESE)
– Instituto Universidad Popular (UNIPOP)
– Centro Ecuménico de Evangelización, Capacitación y Asesoria (CECA)
– Centro de Estudios Bíblicos (CEBI)
– Fundación Luterana de Diaconia (FLD)
– Koinonia Presenca Ecumenica e Servico
– Red Ecuménica de Juventud (REJU)

– KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative
– Central America Support Committee of Victoria
– CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev)
– Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)

– ADIVIMA (Asociación Para el Desarrollo Integral de las Víctimas de la Violencia en las Verapaces Maya Achí)

– Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, Guerrero

– Confederación Nacional Agraria (CNA)

United States
– USOC (US Office on Colombia)
– WOLA (Washington Office on Latin America)
– Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
– Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)
– Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
– Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (formerly RFK Memorial)
– Lutheran World Relief
– United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
– Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
– Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (Colombia Accompaniment Program)
– Institute of Policy Studies Drug Policy Project
– Center for International Policy (CIP)
– Colombia Support Network (CSN)
– Global Exchange
– Colombian Human Rights Committee
– Mennonite Central Committee

– OIDHACO (International Office for Human Rights – Action on Colombia)
– ABColombia (British and Irish Agencies working in Colombia)
– Coordinación „Justicia y Paz y Integridad de la Creación“ de los Franciscanos Centroeuropeos

– TRIALOG – Development NGOs in the enlarged EU
– Agencia de Cooperación del Movimiento de Niños y Jovenes Católicos de Austria (DKA Austria)
– Movimiento de las Mujeres Católicas de Austria (KFB Austria).

– Coalición Flamenca para la Cooperación Norte-Sur – 11.11.11
– Broederlijk Delen
– Comite pour le Respect des Droits Humains Daniel Gillard
– „Alianza por la Paz con la Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó” de parte del Ayuntamiento de Westerlo y de la Federación de Parroquias de Herselt, Hulshout y Westerlo
– Solidarité Socialiste (SolSoc)

– Project Counselling Service (PCS)

– Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture (ACAT)
– Agir Ensemble pour les Droits de l’Homme (de la Coalition Française pour la Paix en Colombie)
– France Amérique Latine
– Pax Christi France
– École de la Paix

– Misereor
– Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (Apoyo en Emergencias)
– Brot für die Welt (Pan para el Mundo)
– Kolko – Derechos Humanos por Colombia
– Action pro Colombia e. V., Aachen
– Aktion Friedensdorf – Kinder in Not e.V., Mönchengladbach
– Grupo Colombia en Nurtingen
– Pax Christi Alemania – Fondo de Solidaridad Un Mundo
– Centro de Derechos Humanos de Nuremberg
– Grupo Colombia en Nurtingen
– Medica Mondiale

– Trocaire

– Rete Italiana di Solidarietà Colombia Vive!

– Oxfam Novib
– Cordaid
– Mensen met een Missie
– Transnational Institute (Drugs and Democracy Programme)
– War Child

– Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
– Fondo Noruego de los Derechos Humanos (NHRF)

– Inspiraction
– Intermón Oxfam
– Soldepaz Pachakuti
– Paz y Tercer Mundo – Mundubat (PTM)
– Plataforma Justicia por Colombia
– Taula Catalana por la Paz y los Derechos Humanos en Colombia
– El Consell Naiconal de la Joventut de Catalunya – CNJC
– Ajuntament de Barcelona
– Ajuntament de Lleida
– Ajuntament de Sant Cugat del Vallès
– Associació Catalana per la Pau
– Col·lectiu Maloka – Colòmbia
– Comissió Catalana d’Ajuda al Refugiat
– Cooperacció
– Entrepobles
– Federació Catalana d’ONG per al Desenvolupament
– Federació Catalana d’ONG per la Pau
– Fons Català de Cooperació al Desenvolupament
– Fundació Josep Comaposada – UGT
– Fundació Pau i Solidaritat – CCOO
– Fundació Pagesos Solidaris
– Fundació per la Pau
– Generalitat de Catalunya
– Justícia i Pau
– Lliga dels Drets dels Pobles
– Moviment per la Pau
– Solidara – Intersindical-CSC

– Diakonia
– The Church of Sweden
– Swedish Foundation for Human Rights
– Civis
– The Union of Civil Servants (ST)
– SweFOR
– Forum Syd
– Plataforma Sueca por Colombia (Grupo Colombia-Suecia)

– Hilfswerk der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz (HEKS)
– Grupo de Trabajo Suiza-Colombia (Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz-Kolumbien – ASK)
– Programa Suizo para la promoción de la Paz en Colombia (SUIPPCOL)
– Bethlehem Mission Immense
– Réseau International des Droits Humains (RIDH)

United Kingdom
– Oxfam GB
– Save the Children UK
– Christian Aid (UK and Ireland)
– SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund)
– Colombia Solidarity Campaign
– Christian Solidarity Worldwide


– Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC)

New Zealand
– Latin America Solidarity Committee