PBI-Colombia accompanies Corporation for Judicial Freedom to meetings with Embassies on the situation in Antioquia
CJL tweet: “Social leaders from different subregions of Antioquia are already in Bogotá, together with the Corporation for Judicial Freedom to alert the international community about the serious humanitarian situation in the department and the risks to their work.”
The Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL) was founded by a group of legal professionals in the city of Medellin, Antioquia in 1993.
It represents victims of state crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations in both national and international courts. A focus of its work is the support and defence of displacement communities or those at risk of force displacement or dispossession due to armed conflict or the imposition of mining and energy projects.
CJL members have received death threats because of this work, experienced false accusations and attempts to detain them, and have detected illegal interceptions and followings during social protests in late 2019.
PBI-Colombia has accompanied the CJL since 2000.
This week PBI-Colombia is accompanying the Corporation for Judicial Freedom and social leaders at meetings with embassies in Bogota to draw the attention of the international community to the humanitarian crisis in Antioquia.
The humanitarian crisis in Antioquia
In January, Blu Radio reported: “Defenders said that they have made multiple alerts and have warned about the situation [in Antioquia] that has been presented by the presence of different actors of illegal armed groups [including the AGC and ELN], in addition, they denounced that the authorities have turned their backs on this situation.”
Last month, Community Peacemaking Teams (CPT) issued this Urgent Action, at the request of CAHUCOPANA, urging Colombian authorities to respond to the critical situation that is threatening the population of the Northeast Antioquia region.
Canada in Antioquia
PBI-Colombia has previously noted: “The abundance of natural resources in these lands and the arrival of multinational companies, such as the Canadian Gran Colombia Gold [that operates the El Silencio, Sandra K, Providencia and Carla mines in the Segovia-Remedios area along with interests in three other mines in Colombia], has provided the illegal armed groups who are present in the region with an extremely lucrative funding source in mining.”
The Hidroituango hydroelectric dam is being built in northwest Antioquia by the Colombian state-owned utility Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM).
EPM has twice benefitted from the support of the Government of Canada financing agency Export Development Canada (EDC). In 2016 and 2017, EDC provided EPM with financing totalling between 500 million and one billion dollars.
The province of Quebec pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has also provided financing for the dam.
In 2019, the CJL published a study of twelve municipalities affected by the construction of this hydroelectric plant, highlighting the crimes committed by paramilitary groups and State agents, who individually or jointly have acted against local populations, social leaders, human rights defenders and political opponents.
Isabel Cristina Zuleta of the Rios Vivos movement says: “Since its launch in 1997, this megaproject has been imposed by violence and the forced displacement of the population, victims of the armed conflict.”
We continue to follow the situation in Antioquia.
Photo: PBI-Colombia with Ríos Vivos, June 2016.