Press Release

IACHR Condemns Murder of Trans Women in Colombia

August 30, 2012

Washington D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Tania and Sirena Paola, two trans women in Colombia.

According to the information received, on August 11, 2012, in Maicao, Guajira, the body of Sirena Paola (registered at birth as Álvaro José Orozco Gutiérrez), 44 years of age, was found in her home with signs of having been beaten on the back of the head. Days before, on August 4, 2012, in a remote area in Sincelejo, Sucre, the body of Tania (registered at birth as Delimiro Ávila Mendoza) was found with a bullet wound to the head. Social organizations have denounced these homicides in a context of violence and impunity against the LGBT community in the Caribbean region in Colombia.

The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate such acts on its own initiative and to punish those responsible. The Inter-American Commission urges the State to conduct an investigation that takes into account whether this murder was committed because of the gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation of the victim.

The Commission continues to receive information on killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, and other forms of violence and exclusion against lesbians, gays, and trans, bisexual, and intersex persons. In addition, the Commission notes that very frequently, problems exist in the investigation of those crimes, which involve, in part, failures to open lines of investigation into whether the crime was committed by reason of the victim's gender identity or sexual orientation. The ineffectiveness of the state response fosters high rates of impunity, which in turn lead to the chronic repetition of such crimes, leaving the victims and their families defenseless.

The IACHR urges the State to take action to prevent and respond to these human rights abuses and to ensure that LGTBI people can effectively enjoy their right to a life free from discrimination and violence, including the adoption of policies and public campaigns and the amendments necessary to bring laws into line with the inter-American instruments on human rights.

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 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. 110/12