Colombia

Key factors contributing to human rights violations in Colombia include the incomplete demobilisation of paramilitary groups, forced displacement of civilians, and threats and harassment of lawyers, members of human rights organisations, trade unions, and indigenous, Afro-Colombian and small-scale farming communities. United Nations agencies and special rapporteurs and other international organisations confirm that the Colombian conflict continues to seriously affect the human rights situation of the local population.Armed actors from all sides of the conflict commit violations of human rights.

They include massacres, murders, forced disappearances, kidnappings, torture and extortion.

Infractions of international humanitarian law are common, and some have been classified as crimes against humanity. The principal victims have been the civilian population.

The Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES) estimates 4.9 million people have been forcibly displaced since 1985.
 
PBI has 17-19 volunteers in four sub-teams protecting NGOs, individuals and communities in Barrancabermeja and the Magadalena Medio, Bogotá, Urabá, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Casanare, Arauca and Sucre among other regions.

The teams operate as observers, accompanying people or organisations under threat, making regular visits to conflict zones, distributing information about the evolution of the conflict, carrying out advocacy, lobbying and public relations work with representatives of the international community as well as with civil and military authorities, and campaigning for international support.

Who we protect in Colombia

Lawyers

PBI accompanies a number of lawyers’ associations across the country, who are taking Colombia’s most emblematic cases of massacres, extra-judicial killings and disappearances to court. These lawyers' work benefits not only the people directly involved but also the wider human rights movement, and they are among the human rights workers most at risk in Colombia.

Organisations challenging impunity

Women human rights defenders and defenders of women's rights

Defending land rights, culture and natural resources

  • The Association of Investigation and Social Action (NOMADESC)
  • CIJP also plays a major advisory and advocacy role in denouncing the illegal cultivation of African Palm in collective territories in the Chocó region (Medio Atrato river). The industrial cultivation of this cash crop is threatening to cause displacement for the largely Afro-Colombian communities and jeopardise environmental protection in the region, the second largest natural reserve in the world
  • The Judicial Liberty Corporation (CJL) advises displaced communities attempting to return to their lands
  • The Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers' Collective (CCALCP) advises indigenous and campesino communities the Catatumbo region (Northeast Colombia) about their rights andabout protecting their land and economic survival against mega projects exploiting carbon resources
  • The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, founded in 1997 by forcibly displaced people wishing to resist the conflict in non-violent ways. Their resistance strategy is based on the creation of ‘humanitarian zones’ and calls for respect for the Principle of Distinction between combatants and non-combatants under International Humanitarian Law
  • The Peasant Farmer Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC)
  • The Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COS-PACC)