Save the date! PBI-Canada co-organizing webinar on June 29 at 3 pm EDT with Colombian human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

Further details will be confirmed soon, but please plan to join us on Monday June 29 at 3 pm EDT for an hour-long webinar with Colombian human rights defenders who will highlight their concerns with the actions of Toronto-based Frontera Energy in the community of San Luis de Palenque in the department of Casanare.

Translation of the presentations will be provided in English and French.

Peace Brigades International-Canada is working with the Colombia Solidarity Support Project (PASC), the International Center for Workers’ Solidarity (CISO) and the Latin American Human Rights Committee (CDHAL) on this.

The webinar will feature speakers from the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and the Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC), both of which are accompanied by PBI-Colombia.

We are also hoping to be able to have an Indigenous land defender in this country speak to their experiences of criminalization when advocating for human rights.

The Colombian speakers will highlight the case of eight local activists who protested against the impacts Frontera is having through its Cubiro Block operations which extract about 3,559 barrels of light and medium crude oil per day.

Those operations have resulted in: dust pollution from heavy trucks on the road; post-production water the oil company sprayed on the road to contain the dust; the dumping of post-production water into the Pauto River; water-takings from the river; and the burning of gases associated with the extraction of these barrels of oil.

These impacts have had environmental and health consequences for the community and has had harmful implications for their livestock.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders highlighted this case in his report to the UN Human Rights Council last year. He noted that Frontera signed two agreements on November 16 and 19, 2018 with the Ministry of Defence totalling US$1.3 million to provide protection for the company.

Later that same month, on November 27, 2018 at 2:40 am in the morning, more than 200 members of the Army and Police, along with two helicopters, arrived in the community and charged the eight activists with criminal conspiracy, violence against a public servant, and obstruction of a public road among other crimes.

Eighteen months later three of those activists remain in prison, five are under house arrest, and no trial date has been scheduled.

To learn more about this situation, and what you can do to uphold human rights, please join our webinar! More details coming soon!

Photos: 1) A November 12, 2018 protest in San Luis de Palenque against Frontera Energy, about two weeks prior to the arrest of community leaders, published by the newspaper Las Chivas. 2) A December 14, 2018 protest in San Luis de Palenque demanding the release of the eight social leaders arrested on November 27, 2018.

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