Colombia: Protect Human Rights Defender At Risk
The Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) was founded in 1987 in the city of Barrancabermeja. For more than thirty years, CREDHOS has worked for the defence, promotion, and protection of human rights, with its work extending to eight municipalities of the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia (North). In recent years, addressing socio-environmental conflicts in the region has gained great importance within the organization and CREDHOS started defending the communities’ rights to a healthy environment.
Due to their work since their foundation, CREDHOS staff have been threatened, harassed, and killed. The latest security incidents faced by CREDHOS staff include:
• On 24 March 2021, CREDHOS received a threatening call from an unknown man self-identified as member of the Magdalena Medio Block of the armed group FARC- EP saying “stop making publications and being toadies, CREDHOS´ Staff is a military objective, you have 48 hours to leave Barrancabermeja”. Minutes later the President of CREDHOS received a threatening voice message. We urged authorities to fully guarantee their protection as per their collective reparation plan granted in 2016.
• On 10 February 2021, a confidential community source notified CREDHOS that armed groups have pointed at CREDHOS staff as military objective
• On 9 January 2021, a pamphlet signed by people identifying themselves as “The Magdalena Medio Block of the PAFC-EP” was circulating in social networks and instant messaging applications. The pamphlet orders a change in a report released by CREDHOS weeks earlier, that includes an analysis of the dynamic of armed groups and illegal economies in 2 subregions of Colombia: Southern Bolivar and the Northeast of Antioquia
• On 24 October 2020, unknown men broke into the apartment of Dr. Ivonne Suarez Pinzón, a member of CREDHOS' Board of Directors who is also the Director of the Oral Memory Archive of Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict (AMOVIUIS), where documents of the cases presented by the organization before the “Special Jurisdiction for Peace” (JEP) were stored.
• On 1 September 2020, The Secretary of the Board of Directors of CHEDHOS Abelardo Sanchez, denounced to the Attorney General's that his house was watched by unknow men the night before.
In 2016, The Victims´ Reparation Unit recognized CREDHOS as a subject of collective reparation for the damages caused to it as an organization throughout its existence. The implementation of the measures officially started in March 2019. The Plan contemplates sixteen measures that will be applied at its Barrancabermeja main offices and in the eight municipalities that are impacted by CREDHOS’ work.