Photo: Amnistía Internacional
The Diplomat. 11/08/2018
The Spanish Government is committed to working with the Colombian authorities in favor of the protection of human rights defenders in the South American country, where, according to the official data of the Ombudsman’s Office, between January 2016 and July 2018, more than 300 activists were killed, the vast majority at the hands of former paramilitaries.
In response to a parliamentary question from the group GCUP-EC-EM) on what are the cooperation mechanisms with Colombia and other Latin American countries “to eradicate the killings and the arbitrary arrests of social and environmental activists”, the Government recalled that, during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on May 10 at the UN Human Rights Council, Spain recommended that Colombia continue to “advance in the recognition and protection of human rights defenders, preventing their criminalization and fighting against the impunity of authors of materials and intellectuals of the aggressions, as well as elaborating global policies of prevention and collective protection”.
In addition to recalling the program of temporary reception in Spain of human rights defenders at risk, the Government has reported that, “both bilaterally and in coordination with the delegations of the European Union and its member states, works in the defense of human rights and supports the investigation of cases of violence against defenders”.
In addition, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) “finances non-governmental projects in Colombia aimed at strengthening and accompanying organizations of defenders”.
The Government has asked Bogota, in the UN and with the EU, to protect this group and put an end to impunity
On the other hand, the Government’s response continues, the Embassy of Spain in Bogotá and the rest of the EU Embassies “issued a Local Declaration on March 6, expressing concern over the increase in the number of murders and attacks committed against defenders”.
“In the Declaration,” according to the Executive, “the progress of the Colombian Government in the effective protection of social leaders was recognized, the fight against impunity and rigorous investigation were emphasized as fundamental elements and all the necessary collaboration was offered to the public institutions and civil society organizations to protect defenders and social leaders “.
“The Spanish authorities maintain regular contact, both in Madrid, and through the Embassies, with the defenders and civil society organizations linked to them, to keep abreast of their situation and express the support of the Government of Spain”, has assured the Executive of Pedro Sánchez.