On 13 August 2018, ABColombia sent a letter to UK Minister of State, Sir Alan Duncan, expressing its concern regarding the escalating illegal activity and humanitarian crisis on the Pacific Coast of Colombia and the increasing violence against Human Rights Defenders. In the letter, ABColombia asked the UK Government to ask that the UN Mission in Colombia presents a report to the UN Security Council addressing the issues of the Humanitarian Crisis and compliance with international humanitarian law, to support the implementation of the Ethnic Agenda for Peace in Chocó, and to propose a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to Colombia as part of the Verification Mission’s mandate.
[Download the full letter in English by clicking on the button below.]
On 4 September 2018, Sir Alan Duncan replied to ABColombia’s letter. In his letter, he said:
I share your concern about the situation in Choco. Over 6,000 people were displaced by violence in the Pacific Coast region during 2017. This is a tragic addition to the seven million people displaced during Colombia’s 52 year internal conflict. The situation in Choco is also worrying due to the targeting of its minority Afro-Carribbean and indigenous communities. The British Ambassador raised the situation in Choco, and other parts of the country where violence continues, in discussions with the new Colombian Minister for Defence. The UK is also supporting the implementation of the ethnic and indigenous chapters of the Peace Agreement…
I also share your concern about reports of increasing violence against Human Rights Defenders and social leaders in Colombia. Illegal armed groups, including the ELN and criminal “BACRIM” groups are responsible for the majority of these attacks and must be brought to justice. Human Rights Defenders and social leaders play a vital role in promoting the rights of local communities and minority groups in Colombia, and in helping to realise the benefits of the historic peace agreement. You may be interested to know the UK raised these concerns in the intervention at the UN Security Council consultations in New York on 26 July.
He went on to say that the FCO valued the consultation process with ABColombia and other NGOs ahead of Colombia’s review at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of human rights in Geneva in May 2018. During the review, Colombia accepted UK recommendations to improve protective measures for human rights defenders, including a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders.
You can read Sir Alan Duncan’s full reply in English by clicking on the button below.