Press Release

IACHR Condemns Killing of the Indigenous Leader Rafael Mauricio Giron Ulchur in Colombia

January 30, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Rafael Mauricio Girón Ulchur, indigenous leader and traditional authority of the Nasa People in Colombia, and beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on November 14, 2011.

According to a press release of the Traditional Authority Nejwsh of the Jambaló Reservation, Cauca, Rafael Mauricio Girón Ulchur, 32 years old, was killed on January 20, 2013. They informed that his body was found with six rifle bullets.

The Inter-American Commission views the killing of Rafael Mauricio Girón Ulchur as extremely serious, considering the precautionary measures in effect that had been granted by the IACHR. The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State’s obligation to take the initiative to investigate this crime and to punish those responsible. The IACHR also calls on the State to immediately adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity and security of the beneficiaries of Pecautionary Measure 255/11. Through such Measure, the IACHR requested the State of Colombia to take the steps necessary to ensure the lives and physical integrity of the members of the Nasa people of Toribio, San Francisco, Tacueyo, and Jambalo Reservations. Such Measure was granted by the IACHR in view of information provided by the petitioners, who claim that the members of the Nasa indigenous people in these four adjacent reservations are facing high levels of risk because of the armed conflict in the north of Cauca department, and that they have suffered murders, forced disappearances, and other acts of violence.

The Commission reiterates its concern on the situation of vulnerability of indigenous peoples in Colombia. Regarding the indigenous peoples in the Cauca Department, the Commission has repeatedly stated its concern about the large presence of armed actors in the indigenous reserves, which impedes the full enjoyment of the collective rights of indigenous peoples and causes their members to become victims of different forms of violence. The constant acts of violence perpetrated against indigenous peoples who seek respect and protection of their fundamental rights threaten not only the life and personal integrity of its members, but also their existance as peoples.

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. 7/13