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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights Defenders in the Crosshairs: The Ongoing Crisis in Colombia

Date: 
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 - 2:00pm
Location: 
Room 2261 of the Rayburn House Office Building

Announcement

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the situation of human rights defenders in Colombia. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, October 20, 2261 Rayburn HOB. The hearing is open to the media and the public.

The ongoing 44-year-old armed conflict in Colombia 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 (A/HRC/10/82; Jan. 9, 2009) reflected the global concern regarding extra-judicial killings and disappearances of individuals.

Recognizing the dangers that human rights defenders face from paramilitary, guerilla fighters and drug lords, the working group recommended that the Colombian government fully implement Presidential Directive 7 of 1999, and give stronger and unambiguous public recognition and support to human rights defenders. The recommendations also included 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 Colombia.

Margaret Sekaggya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and former head of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission, visited Colombia last month from September 7–18 and met with the Uribe government, civil society, judicial institutions, diplomatic delegations, and authorities in Bogota, Barranquilla, Medellín, Cali and Arauca. Ms. Sekaggya will be joined by other human rights experts to present and discuss the findings of her trip.

If you have any questions regarding this hearing, please contact Hans Hogrefe (Rep. McGovern) or Elizabeth Hoffman (Rep. Wolf) at (202) 225-3599.

Hosted by:

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

Witnesses

  • Margaret Sekaggya, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Andrew Hudson, Human Rights First - Kelly Nichols, U.S. Office on Colombia
  • Reynaldo Villalban Vargas, President of the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (Bogota, Colombia)
  • Gabriel Gonzalez, human rights defender
111th Congress