Write to your MP

It is with great sadness that ABColombia announces that on 17 January 2022, Luz Marina Arteaga, human rights defender and social leader, from Matarratón, El Porvenir, Meta was killed. Luz Marina is someone ABColombia has known for the last five years.

On 14 January 2022, 14-year-old indigenous guard and environmentalist, Beiner David Cucuñame was also tragically killed.

Meanwhile, Diego Enrique Salcedo Ladino, a member of the Civic Committee for Human Rights in Meta, has been harassed and is receiving death threats linked to his work on the Ecopetrol case. Human rights defenders face threats and risk their own lives in the defence of others.

According to Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman 145 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia in 2021.

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Standard letter to send to your MP

Subject: Killings and threats against Colombian Human Rights Defenders

I do hope that you are keeping well.

I am writing to you as my MP to share with you my concerns about the ongoing threats to and the shocking number of killings of human rights defenders in Colombia. In particular, on 18 January 2022, the killing of human rights defender, community leader and land claimant Luz Marina Arteaga, her lifeless body was found discarded in the river Meta. She was one of the leaders working on land reclamation rights for the village of Matarratón, El Porvenir, Meta. Luz Marina Arteaga was a leader accompanied by ABColombia and its member organisations. Last year alone, according to the Colombian Human Rights Ombudsman 145 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia.

This year has also started badly with seven human rights defenders killed in the first 20 days of January, these include the killing of Breiner David Cucuñame, a 14-year-old environmental activist and member of the indigenous guard in Cauca. This context has further increased concerns for the safety of Diego Enrique Salcedo Ladino, a member of the Civic Committee for Human Rights in Meta, who is receiving death threats. Diego Salcedo provides advice to the village of La Esmeralda in the municipality of Acacias, Meta, in a case involving the company Ecopetrol and its contractors. This is in relation to environmental damage, destruction of strategic ecosystems, water pollution and drying out of tributaries that supplied drinking water to the farming population.

It is worth noting that Global Witness has also raised grave concerns and reporting that Colombia is the worst country in the world for the killing of Environmental human rights defenders.

The UK Government holds the Pen on the UN Security Council for the Mission of Verification in Colombia and therefore has an important role in the Colombian Peace Process. I am therefore writing to you to ask you, to specifically raise these issues with the UK Government requesting them to address these with the Colombian Government and to:

· Urge the Colombian Government to quickly carry out a thorough investigation into those responsible for the killing of Luz Marina Arteaga and Beiner David Cucuñame – both material and intellectual authors – so that they can be brought to justice.

· To provide adequate protection measures for Diego Salcedo, and collective protection measures for the community leaders of La Esmeralda de Acacias, Meta, and Matarratón, El Porvenir, Meta, so that they can continue their work in defence of human rights, the environment and protect the fundamental rights of the communities.

· Thoroughly investigate the threats against Diego Salcedo, bringing to justice those responsible, both material and intellectual authors, and keep Diego Salcedo informed of progress in the investigations.

I thank you in advance for the actions that you will take on this situation.

Read more about Luz Marina here

Mark International Days for Human Rights

Keep an eye out for ABColombia’s posts related to International Days for Human Rights and tag ABColombia in your posts on human rights!

  • 8 March: International Women’s Day
  • 22 March: World Water Day
  • 24 March: International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims
  • 9 April: Colombian National Day to commemorate the victims of the armed conflict
  • 21 May: Día de la Afrocolombianidad (Day for Afro-Colombians, Colombia)
  • 19 June: International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • 9 August: International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
  • 30 August: International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
  • 21 September: International Day of Peace
  • 25 November: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • 10 December: Human Rights Day