IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Indigenous Leader in Colombia

May 5, 2023

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Washington, D.C.—On May 3, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 27/2023, through which it granted precautionary protection measures in favor of Álvaro Alcides Crespo Hernández and his immediate family in Colombia, after deeming them to be at serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights.

According to the petitioning party, Álvaro Alcides Crespo Hernández is a teacher, a member of the Zenú indigenous people, and governor of La Libertad Indigenous Council in Pica Pica Viejo territory in Puerto Libertador municipality, Córdoba department. Since 2020, the proposed beneficiary and his family have reportedly received several death threats from illegal armed groups. In February 2023, armed individuals reportedly appeared at the educational establishment where the beneficiary works, asking after him. However, the petitioning party noted that protection measures are not yet in place for the beneficiary, despite these having been requested in November 2022.

The State reported that a technical review of the risk to which the proposed beneficiary is exposed was initiated on November 17, 2022. This has been scheduled with the Committee for the Evaluation of Risk and Recommendation of Measures (CERREM) and is currently being implemented and reviewed. Likewise, the Protection and Special Services Department ordered the commander of Puerto Libertador Police Station to implement protection measures and requested that the National Protection Unit (UNP) carry out a risk evaluation. The Córdoba Police Department reportedly implemented preventive measures and gave the beneficiary talks on self-protection measures.

The IACHR is grateful for the information provided by the State. At the same time, it noted that although the State indicated that the UNP is processing a technical study of the risk facing the proposed beneficiary, it has not provided concrete information on when this will be completed. The petitioning party mentioned that the proposed beneficiary has continued to receive death threats and that no protection measures have been put in place yet. Likewise, the IACHR has not received any information on progress made on the various investigations into the events reported since 2020. Finally, it is the IACHR's understanding that the beneficiary's daughter is at risk, given the death threats she has received and the possible reprisals against her.

Consequently, under the terms of Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR decided to grant the precautionary measure and requested that the State of Colombia:

  1. adopt the necessary measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of Álvaro Alcides Crespo Hernández and his daughter, ensuring that it includes an ethnic/racial approach and that the measures in question are culturally appropriate;
  2. take the necessary protection measures to enable Álvaro Alcides Crespo Hernández to continue going about his work as a leader without being subjected to acts of intimidation, harassment, threats, or other acts of violence in the course of doing so;
  3. agree on any measures to be implemented with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and
  4. report on the actions it implements to investigate the alleged events that led to the adoption of this resolution to prevent them from being repeated.

The IACHR's granting of this precautionary measure and its adoption by the State does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by any applicable instruments have been violated.

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. 084/23

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