Press Release

IACHR Office of Rapporteur on Rights on Women Concludes Working Visit to Colombia

May 12, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Women of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out a visit to Colombia May 2-4, 2011, to promote compliance with precautionary measures the IACHR has granted to women's organizations. The visit by Rapporteur Luz Patricia Mejía Guerrero was made at the request of the organizations representing women who are beneficiaries of the Commission's protection measures, in view of information the Commission has been receiving about threats, acts of harassment, and attacks reportedly being suffered by women who work to defend human rights of women in Colombia. The delegation met with high-level State authorities and representatives of civil society organizations in the cities of Bogotá and Cartagena.

The focus of the visit was to follow up on an "act of commitment" signed by the State of Colombia and the following organizations: Casa de Mujer (House of Women); Colectivo de Mujeres al Derecho (Women's Law Collective); Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas (League of Displaced Women); Observatorio Género, Democracia y Derechos Humanos (Observatory on Gender, Democracy, and Human Rights); and Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres (Women's Peaceful Path). Through this document, signed in March 2011 during the Commission's 141st regular session, the parties entered into a commitment to identify, by mutual agreement, mechanisms to implement the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR for women's organizations, women human rights defenders, and activists who work to defend and promote the rights of women. The Rapporteur's visit also aimed to evaluate problems and obstacles observed in the implementation of these precautionary measures, as well as the need to establish a differentiated focus for the protection measures that benefit women, one that is suited to the causes and consequences related to the risk situation they face because of their gender.

During the visit, the delegation met with Paola Margarita Buendía, who is in charge of the High Council for Women’s Equity, the wife of the Vice President of the Republic, Monserrat Muñoz, and representatives of the following institutions: the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the Attorney General's Office, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and Justice, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Social Protection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission on Reparation and Reconciliation, Social Action, the Presidential Human Rights Program, and the Office of the Presidential High Council on Women. It also met with representatives of the organizations Corporación SISMA-Mujer, Corporación Jurídica Yira Castro, Corporación Casa de la Mujer, and Mesa de Trabajo “Mujer y Conflicto Armado” ("Women and Armed Conflict" Working Group). In addition, the Rapporteur visited the "City of Women" in Turbaco, Cartagena, where she received information on the situation of the Liga de Mujeres Desplazadas. Finally, she held meetings with the Asociación Colectivo de Mujeres al Derecho and with local authorities responsible for implementing precautionary measures in the city of Cartagena.

The Commission appreciates the cooperation provided by the government of Colombia, in particular its Foreign Ministry, to make this visit possible. The IACHR also thanks the women and civil society organizations that provided information and testimony to the Rapporteur. The Inter-American Commission reiterates its commitment to keep a close eye on the protection measures and on the Colombian State's policies to overcome the obstacles that arise in complying with the precautionary measures.

On another matter, thanks to the financial support of the government of Finland, when the Rapporteur was in Colombia she also presented the report Access to Maternal Health Services from a Human Rights Perspective.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 43/11