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Colombia: Further information : Fear for Safety/Extrajudicial Execution, Members of the human rights organization Sembrar

, Index number: AMR 23/036/2002

Amnesty International is extremely concerned for the safety of members of the National non-governmental human rights organization Sembrar, as in recent weeks the threats and harassment against them have increased in intensity and frequency. On 27 March, while walking toward the western part of Bogotá, Alexander Herrera noticed that he was being followed by an unidentified man who was also taking his picture.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/036/2002
5 April 2002
Further information on UA 240/01 (AMR 23/093/01, 20 September ) and follow-up
(MAR 23/123/01, 10 December 2001, AMR 23/093/01, 20 September 2001 and AMR
23/097/2001, 24 September 2001) - Fear for safety
COLOMBIAMembers of the National non-governmental human rights organization
Sembrar, including Ludivia Giraldo(f) and Diana Herrera(f)
New name: Alexander Herrera(m)
Amnesty International is extremely concerned for the safety of those named
above, as in recent weeks the threats and harassment against them have increased
in intensity and frequency.
On 27 March, while walking toward the western part of Bogotá, Alexander Herrera
noticed that he was being followed by an unidentified man who was also taking
his picture. Alexander alerted police officers nearby, who immediately arrested
the man and removed the film from his camera for further investigation.
At 6:30 pm on 26 March, as members of Sembrar left their office they noticed
a blue car parked in front of the building. A man and a woman inside the car
switched on the lights and engine of the car as soon as they saw them on the
street. Alerted by their presence, the members of Sembrar decided to return
to their office and contacted a trade unionist friend who has bodyguards
allocated to him as part of the protection program of the Ministry of Interior.
The trade unionist and his bodyguards answered their appeal and went to the
Sembrar’s office. The car drove quickly away as soon as they arrived.
On the same day Diana Herrera, member of Sembrar, was followed by three
unidentified men on the streets of the centre of Bogotá. As Diana attempted
to elude her followers, the men following her fell back. A few minutes later
a fourth man began to follow her.
Blanca Lucía Valencia, legal representative of Sembrar, was forced to leave
the country to protect her life after being intensively harassed and threatened
during the last six months of last year. On 26 February Ludivia Giraldo, who
has replaced Blanca Lucía, was also followed by two unidentified men in a van
after leaving Sembrar’s offices.
As part of this apparent campaign of harassment and threats all members of
Sembrar are receiving threatening phone calls on their mobiles.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Immediately after the death of Yolanda Cerón (see UA 240/01, AMR 23/093/01,
20 September 2001) Sembrar workers received a telephoned death threat apparently
making reference her murder. Since then the threats against them have increased.
Human rights defenders are frequently labelled guerrilla collaborators by
security forces and their paramilitary allies. Such accusations are frequently
followed by serious human rights violations such as abductions, murders or
torture
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as
possible, in Spanish or in your own language:
2
- expressing concern for the safety of Ludivia Giraldo, Diana Herrera, Alexander
Herrera and other Sembrar members in Bogotá;
- urging the authorities to do everything deemed appropriate by those under
threat to guarantee their safety;
- urging the authorities to provide the members of Sembrar with the preventive
measures that were recommended by the Interamerican Human Rights Commission
on 5 October 2001 and UN recommendations to guarantee the safety of human rights
defenders;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the recent death threats
against Sembrar members, urging that the results be made public and those
responsible brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary
groups, in line with stated government commitments and United Nations
recommendations.
APPEALS TO:
President of Colombia
Señor Presidente Andrés Pastrana, Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Santafé de Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Telegram:President Pastrana, Bogotá, Colombia
Telex: 44281 PALP CO
Fax: + 57 1 566 2071
Salutation:Dear President Pastrana / Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente Pastrana
Minister of Defence
Dr. Gustavo Bell
Ministro de Defensa Nacional, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52, Santafé de Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Telegram: Ministro de Defensa, Bogotá, Colombia
Telex: 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Fax: + 57 1 222 00 59 / 221 3653
Salutation: Dear Minister Bell / Sr. Ministro Bell
Minister of the Interior
Dr. Armando Estrada Villa,
Ministro del Interior, Ministerio del Interior,
Palacio Echeverry, Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.,
Santafé de Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Telegram: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 562 5298 (if someone answers say “me da tono de fax por favor”)
Salutation: Dear Sir / Sr. Ministro
COPIES TO:
Non-governmental Human Rights Organization Sembrar
Apartado Aéreo 18621, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or
your section office, if sending appeals after 17 May 2002.

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