ABColombia Recommends Urgent Action

New Acts of harassment against Soraya Gutierrez Argüello, Lawyer and Vice President of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) and spokesperson for the Coordination Colombia Europe United States (CCEEU).

ABColombia joins the urgent appeal made by the Coordination Colombia Europe United States (CCEEU), the Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy, and Development (PCDHDD), the Alliance of Social and Related Organisations, and the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) to take the necessary measures of protection for human rights lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez after new acts of harassment.

On the 30 of April, two unidentified individuals illegally entered Gutiérrez’s home in Bogotá when she was outside the city. The intruders took three laptops, two speakers, a camera, and other items of no value even though there were valuable items in her house. The break-in was thwarted at 9:56 pm, due to the activation of an alert by the complex’s security and the trespassers fled, leaving their backpacks behind. On her return, Gutierrez found the entire house in complete disarray showing that the people searched the whole place, and CAJAR concluded, due to the items taken that the aim was to steal information.

A few days earlier, CAJAR lawyer Juan David Romero had his mobile phone stolen on his way to a meeting related to the National Security Guarantees Commission. Romero supports Gutiérrez in her work with this commission, and it is believed that the phone was taken to access institutional files and passwords. The National Commission of Security Guarantees is a body established by the 2016 Peace Accord whose role is to develop a comprehensive policy for the dismantling of neo-paramilitary and other criminal groups and behaviours that threaten human rights defenders and communities. It is an important mechanism that was largely ignored under the Duque Presidency and has just been reactivated by the Petro Government. It has an essential role to play in addressing impunity and the violence and corruption that is generated by this.[i]

This is not the first time Gutiérrez has been a victim of an attack. Throughout her career, Soraya has suffered psychological torture, and assassination attempts, as well as other aggressions involving members of the state security forces and intelligence agencies.

Due to these aggressions on members of CAJAR, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Court (IACHR) in 2002, decreed precautionary measures in favour of the members of the Collective and their families. In 2019, the IACHR submitted the Merits Report to the IACHR Court for the case to enter the body of justice of the Americas.

ABColombia expresses its deep concern over the attacks suffered by Soraya Gutiérrez Argüello, which not only directly affect her physical and psychological integrity, but also have a negative impact on the exercise of her work in the defence of human rights. ABColombia joins the organisations aforementioned insisting that the Attorney General’s Office of Colombia perform an exhaustive, impartial, and contextual investigation of the most recent acts of aggression against Soraya Gutiérrez Argüello, as well as the threats, attacks, harassment, and psychological torture of which she was a victim in the past, and which continue in impunity.

[i] The National Security Guarantees Commission is an inclusive mechanism with representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs), former combatants, expert persons designated by the parties to the agreement and high-level government decisions makers.