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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In the Dock and Under the Gun – Persecution of Colombian Human Rights Defenders

Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 2:30pm
2203 Rayburn House Office Building


The ongoing 44-year-old armed conflict in has created one of the world’s most dangerous environments for human rights defenders, social leaders, labor activists, and journalists, despite some protection efforts by the Colombian government. During last year’s Universal Periodic Human Rights Review of Colombia at the United Nations, the subsequent Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Colombia PDF reflected the global concern regarding extra-judicial killings and disappearances of those individuals. Recognizing the dangers human rights defenders face from paramilitary, guerrilla and drug lords, the working group recommended that the Colombian government fully implement Presidential Directive 7 of 1999, and give much stronger and unambiguous public recognition and support to human rights defenders, while sanctioning those who make unsubstantiated allegations against human rights defenders and strengthening the protection program for NGO representatives.

The report further recommended that the Colombian government fully investigate and punish crimes against human rights defenders to end the climate of impunity and called for the visits of all relevant human rights rapporteurs to . The recently released State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008 equally reflects the imminent danger to human rights defenders. In its recent report, Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia: In the Dock and under the Gun, Human Rights First analyzes the threat of baseless legal prosecution of human rights defenders as a means of intimidation and a deterrence to speaking out.

If you have any questions, please contact 202-225-3599.

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Frank R. Wolf, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


  • Andrew Hudson, Senior Associate, Human Rights Defenders Program, Human Rights First
  • Hollman Morris, Investigative Journalist and Producer, Contravia
  • Liliana Andrea Avila, Member and Lawyer, Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace
111th Congress