PBI-Canada recognizes the work of Colombian lawyers on the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: PBI-Canada Board member Heather Neun with the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers Collective Corporation (CCALCP) in August 2022 during the VII International Caravan of Jurists in Colombia.

Today is the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer.

This morning, Colombian Caravana tweeted:

They further explain: “Established in 2010, this date was chosen due to it being the anniversary of the Massacre of Atocha where, on the 24th January 1977, four lawyers and a colleague were killed in their office in Madrid, Spain after an attack by right-wing extremists.”

And they note:

Colombia is no stranger to the Day of the Endangered Lawyer having been chosen not once but twice to be the nominated country (latterly in 2022). Lawyers in the region are still persecuted and prevented from carrying out their professional duties freely and safely. In 2021, a Human Rights Watch report stated that more than 450 human rights defenders have been murdered in Colombia since the signing of the Peace Agreement there in 2016 and the OHCHR verified the homicides of 67 human rights defenders between January to October 2021 alone. In addition to this figure, many more have been attacked and have been subject to threats and harassment including from the Colombian judiciary itself and have had little or no support from the State.

At the Colombian Caravana, we believe that without lawyers and legal professionals there can be no justice. As such, we work to promote access to justice and uphold the rule of law in Colombia. We work together with Colombian human rights lawyers and human rights defenders to ensure respect for human rights.  If they are compromised by infringement of their right to practice independently in the interests of their clients, then justice itself is also compromised.

Heather Neun and Catherine Morris of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) have further noted: “More than 700 lawyers were among those killed in Colombia between 1991 and 2013. Between 2017 and 2019 at least three lawyers were killed, along with several attempted assassinations. Added to the attempted and actual murders are numerous death threats. Between 2017 and 2021, at least eight individual lawyers received death threats.”

Among the lawyers accompanied by PBI-Colombia are those with the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR), the Luis Carlos Pérez Collective Lawyers Corporation (CCALCP) and the Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL).

Photo: PBI-Canada met with Rosa María Mateus Parra in Bogota on July 5, 2022.

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