Vivanko: “Duke Said There Are Millions Of Social Leaders In Colombia, And He Thinks It’S Impossible To Protect Everyone.”

2021-02-23   |   by CusiGO

Two weeks ago, Human Rights Watch submitted a report on the ongoing violence against human rights defenders in Colombia. These figures are not only dramatic, they undermine the strategy adopted by the authorities. Since 2016, the United Nations has recorded more than 420 murders. The victims are often indigenous representatives, representatives of the Afro Colombian community or leaders of grass-roots organizations whose work is crucial in many rural areas and whose institutions have yet to be successfully established despite the demobilization of FARC. Following the signing of the peace agreement, a number of territories were controlled by armed groups at the end of the year, including dissidents from rebel groups, who fought for control of drug trafficking routes and other illegal activities.

The work of human rights watch shows that the government’s response to this growing insecurity has been limited to strengthening military deployment and operations that sometimes lead to the death of some leaders. However, according to the organization, this practice has proved inadequate to protect human rights defenders and community representatives. The progress in the administration of justice in recent years is well known. In other words, prosecutors often cut off the chain of impunity and successfully bring to justice the main perpetrators of murders. Nevertheless, human rights watch has found no further efforts to trace the ultimate perpetrators of these crimes. Jos é Miguel vivanko, director of the organization’s Americas, believes that the government is not willing to admit its mistakes. Lawyers regularly meet with Duke and other Latin American rulers, advise them and report to them.

“On Thursday, 11 February, I met with President Duke and briefed him on our report. I have to admit that this meeting has basically achieved nothing. To be honest, I am disappointed. ” “I have put forward to you a series of concrete and practical proposals that your government can implement in order to improve your record in preventing and punishing the killing of human rights defenders,” vivanko said in a statement to the country. Many proposals should not add to the political costs, such as reforming the code of criminal procedure or amending an act to enhance the ability of the office of the prosecutor to prosecute the intellectual perpetrators behind the killing of human rights defenders. I also suggest that he strengthen collective protection mechanisms, starting with the pilot projects announced by former president Juan Manuel Santos in four high-risk areas; increase the number of staff to a special police force to investigate these murders; “We are implementing a commission that already exists in Colombia to develop a plan to disband the armed groups,” he said

However, Vivanco claimed that he could not “persuade” him. “In my opinion, the president doesn’t want to listen. Instead, he seems to believe he’s doing the right thing. ” According to the director of human rights watch America, some data should not even be discussed. “It’s almost a mathematical problem: if the killing of human rights defenders continues in Colombia, then the government’s policies are clearly inadequate or wrong and must be evaluated and corrected. I don’t understand why President Duke made this mistake. ”

In particular, vivanko pointed out that “President Duke’s main argument is that Colombia has 8 million social leaders, which shows – although the president did not make it clear at the meeting – that it is almost impossible to protect all social leaders in the country.”. “To me, it’s a defeatist position, as if the Colombian government is powerless in the face of an unstoppable natural disaster.” Moreover, he went on to say that the authorities’ calculations were based on “a wrong concept”. That is to say, “it is incorrect for the government to say that its position is based on the method of the United Nations. In fact, the term used by the United Nations is human rights defenders, not social leaders. These are two different categories and should not be confused. ”

“The government’s argument is that there are 8 million social leaders, because the community action committee is a grassroots organization in many parts of Colombia and has so many members at the national level. But this argument makes no sense: in Colombia, by law, all people over the age of 14 who live in territories with community action committees are required to register with these institutions. The fact that a person, such as a 14-year-old, joins a community action committee doesn’t make him a social leader, “vivanko continued. “Of course, that’s not what the United Nations says: human rights defenders are those who work to protect or promote these rights, whether they are members of grassroots or non-governmental organizations,” he explained. “I don’t understand what the purpose of the government is,” the lawyer said regretfully, “to confuse the members of the community action committee with the leaders of these organizations, who are the main people at risk in Colombia.”

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