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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia

Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 9:30am


As Colombian and international observers look with hope to the on-going peace negotiations between the Colombian government and Colombia’s largest guerrilla organization, a number of human rights issues remain critical. The Labor Action Plan, which aimed to provide adequate protection of workers’ rights in Colombia, faces many challenges in its implementation and has not prevented labor activists from becoming targets of intimidation and deadly attacks. Under President Santos’s signature Law on Victims’ Rights and Land Restitution, many of Colombia’s internally displaced are trying to reclaim their land and face serious threats and killings for their activities. And as peace negotiations move forward, Colombia struggles to find an effective approach to transitional justice. Many are now concerned that concessions made at the negotiating table may leave the victims of fifty years of violent conflict without justice but with the burden of reconciliation.

This hearing will provide an update on the ongoing peace negotiations and an overview of continuing human rights challenges. More specifically, the hearing will address the status of labor rights, obstacles to land restitution efforts, and recommendations on effective mechanisms for transitional justice. It will also highlight particular challenges faced by Colombia’s indigenous population and Afro-Colombian communities.

If you have any questions, please contact the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at 202-225-3599 or

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern Co-Chair, TLHRC
Frank R. Wolf Co-Chair, TLHRC


Panel I

  • William Duncan, Director of Andean Affairs, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • Adam Isacson, Senior Associate for Regional Security Policy, Washington Office on Latin America
  • Dr. Virginia M. Bouvier, Senior Program Officer for Latin America, United States Institute of Peace

Panel III

  • Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist, The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  • Max Schoening, Colombia Researcher, Human Rights Watch
  • Liliana Ávila, Human Rights Attorney, Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission
  • Jomary Ortegón, Human Rights Attorney, Jose Alvear Restrepo Collective of Lawyers

Mr. Adam Isacson, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia  
Dr. Virginia M. Bouvier, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia 
Ms. Celeste Drake, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia 
Mr. Max Schoening, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia 
Ms. Liliana Ávila, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia 
Ms. Jomary Ortegón, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia  

Submitted for the Record

The Government of Columbia, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Colombia
Rep. Wilson Arias Castillo, Columbian Chamber of Representatives of the Columbian Congress, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Columbia
Faith Leaders on the Peace Process, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Columbia
Dr. Gabe Twose, Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues, Creating Peace and Finding Justice in Columbia




113th Congress