Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Colombia: Condemnation of Continued Threats and Murders Directed Against Human Rights Defenders And Their Families

Source: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)

Washington, D.C., March 7, 2011—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) deplores the continuing situation of threats, harassment, and murders of family members of María del Socorro Mosquera Londoño and Mery Naranjo Jiménez, human rights defenders in Colombia. Both women have been beneficiaries of IACHR precautionary measures since 2004 and of provisional measures issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights since 2006, without the State having adopted effective measures for protection. This is part of a pattern of persecution and lack of protection being faced by these human rights defenders in the Comuna 13 area of Medellín, Colombia.

María del Socorro Mosquera Londoño and Mery Naranjo Jiménez are human rights defenders and community leaders who have carried out a sustained effort to denounce agents of the State for their alleged participation in grave human rights violations against the people of Comuna 13 in Medellín. Based on the threats received and the context of violence in Comuna 13, the IACHR granted precautionary measures on October 22, 2004, to protect the life and physical integrity of María del Socorro Mosquera Londoño, Mery Naranjo Jiménez, and the latter woman's family members. With the acts of harassment and aggression continuing, the Commission asked the Inter-American Court for provisional measures, which were granted for these same beneficiaries on July 5, 2006.

Despite these measures being in force, three relatives of both defenders have been killed. Two of them were beneficiaries of the provisional measures: Javier Augusto Torres Durán, Mery Naranjo's son-in-law; and her 16-year-old son, Sebastián Naranjo Jiménez. They were killed on December 2, 2007, and October 4, 2010, respectively. In addition, on February 1, 2011, Socorro Mosquera's 14-year-old grandson, Lubin Alfonso Villa Mosquera, was killed. Meanwhile, the threats and acts of harassment continue, including an illegal search of Mery Naranjo's house in August 2010. Marlon Daniel Herrera Mosquera, who is Socorro Mosquera's son, has also been physically attacked with blows, kicks, and punches.

The Inter-American Commission considers it extremely serious that the State of Colombia has not provided effective protection measures despite having had full knowledge, at least since 2004, of the situation of risk faced by these defenders and their families, and despite the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court.

The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State's obligation to investigate events of this nature of its own accord and to punish those responsible. The Commission once again calls on the State of Colombia to immediately and urgently take all necessary steps to guarantee the life, integrity, and safety of these human rights defenders and their families.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.