IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Rights Defenders in Colombia

June 16, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 33/2023 on June 12, 2023, to grant precautionary measures in favor of human rights defenders David Mayorga Osorio and José Luis Moreno Álvarez in Colombia, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

The request for these precautionary measures alleged that the proposed beneficiaries were being subjected to threats and harassment by illegal armed groups who were active in some areas of the department of Santander and the Magdalena Medio region. The request further noted that death threats, surveillance, and tracking had increased and persisted over time.

The State noted that Moreno faced an "extraordinary" risk. The State reported on the implementation of certain protection measures and on the investigations that had been conducted over the period 2017–2023, and also said that preventive measures had been adopted by the police, in permanent contact with the beneficiaries. The State further reported that various instances of coordination among State institutions and with the Armed Forces had been implemented to better protect the rights of the beneficiaries.

Following an assessment of the situation, the Commission noted the action taken by the State and found that, although there were already material protection measures in place, the risks had not been mitigated and could get worse over time, particularly considering that they had persisted, that recent threats had been reported, and that the evidence suggested that these threats were being made by criminal organizations with solid structures and presence in the areas where the beneficiaries work. Finally, the Commission stressed that the State's obligation to protect the rights to life and personal integrity is heightened in the cases of rights defenders. This implies that the State must create suitable legal and formal conditions and adequate effective conditions to enable these individuals to do their work freely.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR's Rules of Procedure, the Commission asked the State of Colombia to take the following action: (a) adopt any measures necessary to preserve the beneficiaries' rights to life and personal integrity; (b) take any protection measures necessary to ensure that the beneficiaries can continue to do their work as human rights defenders without being subjected to threats, intimidation, or any other acts of violence; (c) come to an agreement with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding any measures that need to be taken; and (d) report on any actions taken to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the 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 is mandated to promote the observance of 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. 122/23

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