Haldane Sends Letter to Embassy in Defence of MOVICE (Colombia)

Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez
Embassy of Colombia to the United Kingdom
3 Hans Crescent

14th February 2013

Your Excellency,

I have corresponded with you in the past about the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers concern about the situation of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia.  As you may recall, the Haldane Society launched a campaign in solidarity with MOVICE in February 2012, in response to increased abuses and threats to their members.

I am writing to you on behalf of the Haldane Society to express our concern about a number of incidents that have taken place recently.  We wrote to you last July about our friend Diego Martinez, Executive Secretary of la Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CPDH).

CPDH were granted “precautionary measures” by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights in May 2012. It was not until December 2012, the National Protection Unit finally gave Mr Martinez a security vehicle and a bodyguard by the Protection Unit. However, we were extremely concerned to hear that Mr Martinez’s bodyguard was detained temporarily by Units of the National Police. When Mr Martinez complained and informed them that he would be left without any security, the Police asked him to go with them, despite not having committed any crimes. He refused but when he tried to make a complaint, the police refused to lodge the complaint.

Although Mr Martinez’s bodyguard has now been returned to him, we are concerned that the police are acting in a way which leaves someone like Mr Martinez at risk even if it was only for a short period.

I also want to express our concern about reports we have received about threats made to Jeison Pava, leading human rights lawyer at CPDH, and Harry Caicedo, Director of CPDH in Charco Nariño.

On 16th January 2013, an anonymous call was made to the CPDH head office in Bogota, asking for Mr Pava’s timetable and when he would be coming and going from the office. When the receptionist refused to give him those details, the caller insulted her and said “we need that head” referring to Mr Pava. Both Mr Pava and Mr Martinez have been subject to ongoing threats and hostilities over the past year. This included a written threat on 4th July 2012 by the anti-restitution army, which featured threats and described them as military targets.

Mr. Caicedo has suffered ongoing persecution by the Colombian State since 16th November 2010, when the authorities first raided his house detained him accusing him of “rebellion” and used physical violence against his wife. He was released after the case against him was closed on 18th November 2011. He was then detained again by the police on 19th October 2012, who claimed that the case remained open. This is despite his case being highlighted as an example of political persecution days earlier at a meeting between the Colombian authorities and human rights groups

At 11:30pm n 13th January 2013, shots were fired into the house of Harry Caidedo who was at home with his wife and six-month old son. This was following an arson attack and an attack where his dog was almost beaten to death.

We support the CPDH and MOVICE's work for justice for victims of human rights abuses and will continue to raise awareness on the abuses they face and provide international accompaniment for their activities here in the UK and with our partners in Europe. On behalf of the Haldane Society, I urge you to raise these cases with the responsible authorities in Colombia so that these cases can be investigated and the threats against CPDH and other human rights defenders stopped.

I would like to urge the Colombian authorities to do all that they can to protect human rights defenders in Colombia.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Davies
For the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers