PBI-Colombia accompanies COSPACC at meeting with social organizations in Casanare and Boyacá

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On November 30, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project posted: “Today PBI-Colombia is accompanying COSPACC while conducting a meeting of guarantees of human rights, protection and self-care with social organizations in Casanare and Boyacá.”

We were honoured to have COSPACC lawyer Tatiana Triana speak on our webinar recognizing International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on November 29. To watch the 1-hour video of that webinar, please click here.

PBI-Canada has also been following the situation with Toronto-based Fronter Energy and the criminalization of eight social leaders in Casanare.

COSPACC accompanies that struggle in San Luis de Palenque.

Frontera’s operations in that community are said to have resulted in dust pollution from heavy trucks on the road; post-production water being 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 oil.

Last year, Michel Forst, at that time the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, noted in his report to the UN Human Rights Council (on page 9, points 29 and 30): “Social protests [took place] between 2016 and 2018 in response to the failure of Canadian public company Frontera Energy to fulfil its obligation to compensate communities affected by environmental damage and to repair damaged roads.”

Violeta Stereo FM Casanare adds: “According to the peasants and social leaders, the protests at the time sought to make visible the breach of the environmental license and the other agreements signed between the multinational and the community.”

Significantly, Forst also highlighted that Frontera signed two agreements on November 16 and 19, 2018 with the Colombian Ministry of Defence totalling US$1.3 million to provide protection for the company and that just days later, on November 27, 2018, the army and police launched a massive operation and arrested the activists.

On August 10 of this year, COSPACC tweeted: “The 2nd Municipal Criminal Court [has] revoked the custodial arrest measure imposed on 2 of the 8 leaders prosecuted in the case of #SanLuisdePalenque. We demand the freedom of social leaders.”

The following day, Prensa Libre Casanare reported: “After 20 months of being deprived of liberty, with the measure of house for jail, the judicial decision favored the engineer Miguel Ángel Rincón Santiesteban and Carmen Iraida Salcedo Gutiérrez.”

Then on September 16, El Nuevo Oriente reported: “Due to expiration of terms when more than 500 days have elapsed without a formal trial having been installed, a guarantee control judge ordered the release of the eight social leaders prosecuted in the middle of a lawsuit by the oil company Frontera Energy in San Luis de Palenque (Casanare).”

We continue to follow this situation with great interest.

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