Caravana Blog #11
15 months after: Colombia, no has sido olvidado (Colombia, you haven’t been forgotten)
On 28 September 2018, while writing the final blog for the 2018 Caravana Internacional de Juristas a Colombia, I promised myself to not forget Colombia. To not turn my back against the harsh day-to-day reality in a country that stole my heart and still holds it today. A promise intended to be kept.
A characteristic of the human mind is that physical and mental distance, in due course often leads to forgetfulness and neglect. Even memories to an event with a big impact, negative or positive, usually tend to slowly sink into that dark shade of blue called oblivion. I guess the human mind was designed that way. To keep moving. To focus on the future. Or to survive the past. To increase, maintain or find hope to deal with what is yet to come. Forgetfulness is nothing to be ashamed of. However, ignoring living memories to a reality that is still endangering the lives of some of the most courageous people of our time, is. And therefore, our work continues.
Adil Meléndez, you haven’t been forgotten. Jorge Molano, you haven’t been forgotten. Rommel Durán, you haven’t been forgotten. Colombia, you haven’t been forgotten.
Actions speak louder than words and that’s why I figured a recap of recent events would be interesting to share with you today. Consider it as a build-up to what is to come for 2020, the year of the next Caravana.
November 2018, visit Colombian human rights lawyer Daniel Prado to Europe
In November 2018, two months after the Caravana, Lawyers for Lawyers had the privilege to meet with Colombian lawyer Daniel Prado in Amsterdam. Daniel is the lawyer defending the victims of a paramilitary group in the hugely important so-called doce apósteles case, in which Santiago Uribe, the brother of former President Álvaro Uribe, is being investigated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
March 2019, launch of the Caravana a Colombia 2018 report in London
In March 2019, the official report of the 2018 Caravana was launched at the Law Society in London, United Kingdom. I was invited to participate in a panel, consisting of a total of four caravanistas, which presented the most important findings of the 2018 fact-finding mission to a crowd of human rights experts. Click here to read the full report.
June/July 2019, visit Colombian human rights lawyer Adil Meléndez to the Netherlands
Upon the nomination of Lawyers for Lawyers, Adil Meléndez was selected to participate in the 2019 Shelter City program. During his six-week stay in the Hague, Adil was given the chance to enjoy a short break from his day-to-day work and share his experiences of working as a human rights lawyer under extremely difficult circumstances to several law firms, human rights institutions, and governmental bodies. Of course the Lawyers for Lawyers team was there to receive Adil and help raise awareness for the professional and personal safety of Adil and other Colombian human rights lawyers.
November 2019, visit Colombian human rights lawyer Rommel Durán to Europe and presentation of the 2019 Ludovic Trarieux Award
On 8 November 2019 Rommel Durán was presented the Ludovic Trarieux award. Lawyers for Lawyers nominated Rommel Durán for the award. For this great honor, the man of the hour himself, and caravanistas Christian, Wout (don’t forget those names, as they will probably return in my next blogs!) and myself travelled to the pretty city of Luxembourg, where Rommel was honoured in style at the European Convention Center. The jury of the award, consisting among others of representatives of eight different European BAR Associations, praised Rommel for his demonstrated courage by defending and representing severely victimised farming and indigenous community members.
Again, congratulations Rommel. It couldn’t be more deserved and you can be proud of your contribution to the future of your country.
As implicitly stated above, Lawyers for Lawyers’ contribution to the protection of Colombian human rights lawyers hasn’t stopped, and will remain alive as long as its help shall be appreciated and needed. We therefore look forward to continue working for our colleagues and friends in Colombia, and are in the meantime starting with the preparations of the 2020 Caravana a Colombia. A further update shall be provided very soon. The carousel is about to accelerate again.
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