Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders posts Urgent Intervention following attack on CAHUCOPANA president Carlos Morales

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 10, PBI-Colombia tweeted:

“The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) condemn the serious attack against Carlos Morales, president of @CAHUCOPANA, and his family. And they request urgent intervention of authorities to guarantee their protection. In 2022, 35 defenders have already been killed.”

The Observatory’s Urgent Intervention notes:

The Observatory has received with concern information about the attack against Mr. Carlos Arturo Morales Mallorga, a peasant leader, human rights defender and president of the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia (Cahucopana).

On February 27, 2022, at half past ten in the evening, in the city of Barrancabermeja, department of Santander, Carlos Morales, while picking up his minor son, accompanied by his partner and his other minor son, was shot by unidentified armed individuals, who were traveling on a motorcycle.

Carlos Morales and his partner were injured. They were immediately transferred and admitted to the hospital. All of them are out of danger. On February 28, 2022, Carlos Morales filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office.

Days before the attack, Carlos Morales led meetings with the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia and with representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Colombia to analyze the security situation in Cahucopana.

Likewise, Carlos Morales and other members of Cahucopana have held meetings with local authorities and governments to communicate the situation of persecution, harassment and criminalization faced by leaders who defend the right to land and territory against the control and dispossession of their lands by paramilitary successor groups and guerrilla groups.

The Observatory emphasizes that Carlos Morales and other members of Cahucopana have been beneficiaries of precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) since 2018. Mr. Morales has armed escorts and an armored vehicle under the individual scheme granted by the National Protection Unit (UNP). At the time of the attack, neither the bodyguards nor the vehicle were accompanying him.

Likewise, the defender had been relocated to Barrancabermeja by the UNP because of the high level of risk he faced due to his position in the organization and for legitimately exercising his right to defend the peasants and their territories in the Northeast Antioquia subregion.

In addition, since 2019 Cahucopana has had collective measures differentiated from the UNP, which extend to all the peasant and mining communities with which they work. None of these prevention and protection measures were effective in preventing the attack on Carlos Morales and his family.

The Observatory stresses that the attack against Carlos Morales is part of a context of harassment and systematic violence in the region against defenders linked to movements in defense of land, territory and the rights of peasants, both by paramilitary structures and by guerrilla groups.

Their full Urgent Intervention can be read here.

PBI-Colombia has accompanied the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia (Cahucopana) since 2013.

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