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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Colombia’s Human Rights Defenders: Protecting Rights, Building Peace

Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 10:00am
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing and discussion with Colombian human rights defenders and recipients of the National Award for the Defense of Human Rights in Colombia.

An historic peace agreement appears within grasp in Colombia, as the Colombian government and the FARC insurgency appear close to reaching an accord to end an internal armed conflict in which more than 220,000 people have lost their lives, over 80 percent of whom were civilians.  But as the negotiations proceed, the war continues, marked by a rise in attacks on human rights defenders. Just during the third quarter of 2015, the non-governmental program We Are Defenders documented 178 attacks against human rights defenders, including 17 assassinations.

For the past four years, international humanitarian and human rights agencies working in Colombia have sponsored a competitive national award to acknowledge the courageous initiatives of individuals and of local and regional organizations that work to protect and promote human rights in the country. Four of the five recipients of the 2015 award are visiting the United States, courtesy of the Swedish agency Diakonia. The four represent peasant, Afro-Colombian and women's organizations from northern Cauca, Comuna 13 (Medellin), Casanare and the Middle Atrato of Chocó. The awardees will discuss the challenges they and their fellow advocates face in regions deeply scarred by the conflict, and the role they hope to play in building a just and sustainable peace in Colombia.

The briefing will be open to members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public and the media. Translation will be provided. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or, or Isaac Six (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC



  • Francia Elena Márquez Mina, Mobilization of Women for Care for Life and Ancestral Territories, Cauca
  • Luz Elena Galeano, Women Walking for Truth, Medellin
  • Fabián Laverde,  Social Corporation for Community Advising and Training, Casanare
  • William Rivas, Community Council of the Peasant Association of the Atrato, Chocó


  • Lisa Haugaard, Latin America Working Group Education Fund


114th Congress