A look back at when the Colombian Caravana of International Jurists visited with CCALCP

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Colombian Caravana is a United Kingdom-based charity that works to promote access to justice and uphold the rule of law in Colombia. Since 2008, it has been organizing delegations of international lawyers that visit Colombia every two years.

The Colombian Caravana of International Jurists made its fifth visit to Colombia in August 2016. The delegation included participants from twelve different countries, including Heather Neun from Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada who is also a member of the Board of Directors of Peace Brigades International-Canada.

The delegation in 2016 took place amid expectations that the final Peace Agreement between FARC-EP and the Colombian State would bring substantive change.

The introductory comments in the report on that visit notes: “We were shocked to be told by the respected NGO, Somos Defensores, that in the first six months of this year, no less than 35 defenders were murdered.” There was likely hope that this situation would improve in subsequent years (sadly it has not).

As such, among the 18 recommendations made in the report: “The government must urgently address the increase in reported attacks on human rights defenders against the background of the peace process. This should include prioritising fair and transparent investigations into murders and attacks, to end impunity.”

Interestingly, one of the case studies in the report also highlights the Luís Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP). The connections made on this visit between Neun and CCALCP helped facilitate their 8-day advocacy visit to Canada in November 2019.

The report notes: “Since 2005, CCALCP and its members have experienced, at least 40 serious security incidents ranging from physical aggression, attacks, threats, harassment, surveillance, thefts, defamation and attacks on the Collective’s infrastructure.”

“The Collective has reported these incidents to the authorities, both formally and publicly including the Attorney General’s Office.”

“Not a single concrete result has flowed from these complaints. Certain complaints such as being followed and harassment have been met with the discriminatory response that the women had been pursued by admirers or spurned boyfriends.”

The report adds: “Among many others, illustrative cases of wrongful prosecutions and/or imprisonment include those of CCALCP Women lawyers’ collective.”

The report also gives special thanks to Peace Brigades International Colombia Project (PBI Colombia) for their support with the delegation.

The information gathered from each delegation is drawn together into a report and used to shine a spotlight on the issues human rights lawyers and their clients are confronting, through awareness-raising, urgent action and advocacy activities.

To read the full 36-page report on the 2016 delegation, please click here.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Caravana delegation has unfortunately been cancelled.

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