Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of the Afro-Colombian Leaders of the Governing Board of the Alto Mira and Frontera Community Council

March 28, 2018

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Washington, D.C – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures on March 11, 2018, in favor of the identified members of the Governing Board of the Alto Mira and Frontera Community Council (CCAMF by its acronym in Spanish), in Colombia. According to the letter requesting the precautionary measure, the CCAMF is made up by Afro-Colombian families in a territory of approximately 25,528 hectares and is located in a strategic corridor for illicit activities where there would be illegal armed groups that would seek territorial and social control.

After analyzing the allegations of fact and law, in light of the specific context in which these facts allegedly take place, the Commission considered that the identified members of the Board of Governors of the Alto Mira and Frontera Community Council are, in principle, in a situation of seriousness and urgency, since their rights to life and personal integrity are at risk.

In making this determination, the Commission noted that in spite of the protection measures reported by the State, several risk events continued to occur against the members of the Board, including the alleged declaration that they had been declared a "military objective" by illegal groups, granting them a value for "head of members" as well as various threats that, in some cases, would have materialized in murders, such as that of community leader José Jair Cortes in October 2017. The Commission took into account the individual as well as collective impact that such a situation of risk would have, given the importance of the role played by the Board's leaders, who had been chosen within the framework of their own forms of self-government and organization. The Commission took note of the protection measures reported by the State, however, it noted that the applicants expressed the need for a culturally appropriate approach, of a permanent and comprehensive nature.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR, the Commission requested the State of Colombia to adopt the necessary measures to safeguard the life and personal integrity of the members of the Board of Governors of the CCAMF identified; adopt culturally appropriate protection measures so that the members of the CCAMF Governing Board can carry out their work, within the framework of the CCAMF's own forms of self-government, without being subjected to violence, threats and harassment. Such measures, in addition to the fact that the security forces can be intensified or more comprehensive and coordinated measures can be adopted, could include measures to ensure the safe presence of the members of the Board in the CCAMF, making it possible to travel in safe conditions , and strengthen the means of communication to respond to emergencies; arrange the measures to be adopted with the beneficiaries and / or their representatives, according to their own decision-making methods; and report on the actions taken in order to investigate the alleged facts that gave rise to the granting of this precautionary measure and prevent its repetition.

The granting of the precautionary measure and its adoption by the State do not constitute a prejudgment on a possible petition before the Inter-American system alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Convention and other applicable instruments.

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 and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 066/18