On 26 March 2019, an Early Day Motion (EDM) 2232 was tabled in the UK Parliament, calling for a debate on inclusive peace and the protection of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia. Colombia continues to be the most dangerous country in the world for Human Rights Defenders, and communities continue to suffer the impacts of the ongoing armed conflict. Please write to your MP and encourage them to sign EDM 2232.
Citing the data from the Office of the Colombian Human Rights Ombudsman, EDM 2232 highlights that 172 Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and community leaders were killed in Colombia in 2018. In 2019, the levels of violence against HRDs continue to be alarming: in the first three weeks of January 2019, one HRD was killed every three days in Colombia.
Moreover, the breakdown of the peace talks with the ELN guerrilla at the beginning of 2019 has led to a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation, particularly in remote rural areas. In Chocó, Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are caught in the midst of hostilities between neo-paramilitary groups and the ELN guerrilla, and community leaders are subject to threats and intimidation.
The EDM calls for the effective implementation of the Colombian Peace Accord and for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict with the ELN. It also raises concerns about recent threats against ABColombia partners, including death threats against Danilo Rueda from the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission and Zenú Indigenous leader Irrael Aguilar Solano.
The EDM states:
That this House
encourages further steps to be taken to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Peace Accord between the Colombian Government and the FARC signed in November 2016, including its gender-based agreements and prioritisation of victims’ rights;
recognises the vital role of civil society organisations and human rights defenders in the effective implementation of that Accord;
is very concerned that 172 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia in 2018 according to the Colombian Ombudsman;
notes also with concern the death threats against Zenú Indigenous leader Irrael Aguilar Solano and Human Rights Defender Danilo Rueda from the Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz;
regrets that the breakdown of peace talks with the ELN guerrilla has increased violence against, and suffering in Indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant rural communities and humanitarian zones, including in medio-Atrato Chocó, Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó, which are caught between neo-paramilitary groups and ELN guerrilla, and subject to threats and intimidation;
urge both the Colombian State and the ELN to work towards a peaceful and negotiated solution to the armed conflict; and
calls on the Government to ensure that the recommendations in the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders’ 2019 report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders are incorporated into, and monitored by, the UN Security Council’s Verification Mission to Colombia.
The sponsors of this EDM are: Patrick Grady MP (SNP), Chris Bryant MP (Labour), Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrats), Fiona Bruce MP (Conservative), Jo Stevens MP (Labour), Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative).
Please encourage your MP to sign EDM 2232. You can download a draft letter here. It is essential to highlight the critical situation faced on a daily basis by Human Rights Defenders in Colombia, as well as the importance of a peaceful and negotiated solution to the conflict with the ELN guerrilla.
To see who your MP is go to http://www.theyworkforyou.com and enter your postcode.