Adil Meléndez Márquez Loses Security Detail Following Prestigious Award Win
21 February 2024

Adil Meléndez Márquez Loses Security Detail Following Prestigious Award Win


On January 23, 2024, Colombian lawyer Adil José Meléndez Marquez was honored with the Sir Henry Brooke Award by the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk, following a nomination from Lawyers for Lawyers. This prestigious accolade recognizes legal practitioners or human rights defenders who have significantly contributed to the promotion, protection, and advancement of human rights and the rule of law. The award seeks to celebrate the works and achievements of these lawyers and validate their contributions to the promotion of human rights.

Unfortunately, within twenty minutes of Meléndez receiving the award, Meléndez was informed by a personal guard in Cartagena, in Colombia’s northern Caribbean region, that the protection measures previously granted to him had been revoked. Consequently, upon his return to Colombia, he would be without his guard, raising serious concerns about his safety.

In light of this, the Guardian recently featured an article on Meléndez and his experiences. In the article, Meléndez expressed his fears over losing his security detail and recounted his upbringing in areas controlled by paramilitaries, along with the violence and threats he encountered. Meléndez, who is an Afro-Colombian, uniquely represents the community he comes from. The article mentions one of Meléndez’s projects (resisting upgrading the Canal del Dique) and the backlash he received from a Colombian minister. He spoke about the backlash he received for opposing the Canal del Dique project and the backlash from a Colombian minister. He speculated on the possibility of not returning to Colombia to ensure his safety. The article concluded with Meléndez’s hope that the international recognition from the award might offer him some protection by making criminal actors more hesitant to target him.

In a recent BBC segment, Meléndez shared the harassment, persecution, and threats he has faced since starting his work as a human rights defender in 2003.  A Lawyers for Lawyers volunteer further highlighted the dangers Meléndez faces, now that these protection measures have been removed. 

Lawyers for Lawyers appreciates the increased attention to Meléndez’s achievements and the risks he faces. Yet, Lawyers for Lawyers expresses its deep concern for Meléndez’s safety following the revocation of his protection measures.

In this context, Lawyers for Lawyers wishes to highlight the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which mandate that:

  • “Governments must ensure that lawyers (a) can carry out their professional duties without being intimidated, hindered, harassed, or interfered with improperly (…).” (Principle 16)
  • “Authorities must provide adequate protection to lawyers when their security is at risk due to their professional activities.” (Principle 17)

We will continue to closely follow developments in this matter.

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