Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez signs letter expressing concern about the safety of Colombian human rights defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

On July 7, Peace Brigades International-USA tweeted: “94 members of the US Congress, including @RepMcGovern @repmarkpocan, urge @SecPompeo to pressure Ivan Duque’s government to improve the protection of #HRDs in #Colombia.”

The Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project also tweeted: “94 Congressmen from [the United States] warn of a serious security crisis for #personasdefensoras [defenders] in Colombia; demand collective protection, presence of org. international accompaniment and dismantling of successor groups to paramilitarism.”

And Finance Colombia reports: “Almost 100 members of the US Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to put additional pressure on Colombian President Ivan Duque to implement the 2016 Peace Accords signed by previous President Juan Manuel Santos, and also to reverse the deteriorating security situation experienced by social, indigenous & Afrocolombian leaders in the country.”

That letter – which can be read in full here – opens with: “As the coronavirus pandemic exposes and magnifies existing problems in each of the countries it ravages, we are particularly concerned that it is affecting the safety of Colombia’s brave human rights defenders and social leaders who are putting their lives on the line to build lasting peace.”

It then asks the Secretary of State to firmly urge the Duque Administration to:

“Improve protection of human rights defenders and social leaders, starting with effective investigations of attacks and threats against them, identifying those who ordered these crimes and publicly presenting the outcomes of these investigation.”

The letter also highlights this call:

“Swiftly hold accountable Colombian Army intelligence members, including at the highest ranks, who ordered and carried out mass surveillance on 130 journalists (including U.S. reporters), human rights defenders, political leaders, and military whistleblowers. The U.S. should also ensure that U.S. security and intelligence assistance does not assist, aid or abet such illegal surveillance, now or in the future.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the U.S. Secretary of State in Washington, DC in June 2019 and the Secretary of State then met with now-Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in Ottawa in August 2019. The prime minister also met with the Colombian president on May 11 of this year to discuss the pandemic and Venezuela.

The Prime Minister’s statement on that meeting does not make mention of concerns about the security situation for human rights defenders in Colombia.

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