Caravana Blog #4
Day 5 (Tuesday 4 September 2018)
Ya no tenemos miedo. We are no longer afraid.
Day two of the victim interviews. Again at Eduardo’s cozy office, which is starting to feel a bit like home. In order to attend as much victims as possible today, we decided to split up in two teams: Wout and Gemma, and Christian and myself. Today was more crowded than the first round, since some of the victims were having troubles yesterday to travel to Cartagena and in the end were not able to make it then. A tiring but inspiring two hour session was the result.
The most memorable moment for me was when at a certain point the office door was opened; the room went quiet and two elderly men strolled in. One eighty years old, the other close to 70. Both afrocolombian farmers from the northern rural area of Colombia. In a highly moving way, they calmly explained to us that years ago they were chased away from their houses and land. Property that had been owned by their family for more than two hundred years. For some time they refused to leave their farms but when the threats became structural and concrete, the men finally left, taking their wives and children with them. Approximately twenty other families suffered the same, but none of them ever dared to act against it. Now, years after the land retribution, the two men we interviewed decided to search for justice and reclaim what is legally and, even more important, emotionally theirs. Amazingly, their high age will not stand in their way. When asked by us if they feared for their lives due the fact that they will take their case to court in the near future, the oldest of the two farmers looked me straight in the eyes, and told me he wasn’t. Not anymore, he responded. I have no future to lose, only a past to regain. The second men, his brother, nodded his head decisively and agreed. Ya no tenemos miedo.
During lunch I had some difficulties to focus my attention on the upcoming meetings that day. The visit of the two men was just too overwhelming to mentally process and move on right away. To be really honest, the rest of the day my attention kept going back to Eduardo’s office. Until later that day, in the evening, when I spoke to Christian and Wout about their experiences of the day.
After lunch, while I visited a labour law judge with Gemma and Claudia, Wout and Christian were invited at the working office of Adil Melendez. There they got to meet his team, which consists of five young lawyers, between the age of 22 and 35. Adil is one of the most prominent human right lawyers in the Caribbean part of Colombia, but also one of the most threatened ones in his field of work. Illustrative for the risk he runs is the pamflet you see on the picture besides this blog. This pamflet is a deathlist. Adil’s name is on it.
Meer nieuws uit Colombia
Colombia: UPR mid-term report
In preparation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Colombia in 2023, Lawyers for Lawyers, Lawyers’ Right Watch Canada and the Colombian Caravana have written a mid-term report. In this report, we set out to what extent Colombia has implementedLees verder
Joint letter to Rapporteurs on threats to Reinaldo Villalba and his team
Lawyers for Lawyers, the Law Society of England and Wales, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), and the Institute for the Rule of Law ofLees verder
Joint letter on the alleged illegal espionage against Colombian lawyers
In a joint letter the Colombian Caravana, and Lawyers for Lawyers together with nine human rights organizations, expressed concerns about recent allegations of the Colombian National Army’s unlawful surveillance activities of 130 individuals, including lawyers of the José Alvear RestrepoLees verder
Joint letter about risks and challenges for justice and lawyers in Colombia during COVID-19
In a joint letter the Colombian Caravana, Lawyers for Lawyers, Action for Justice, Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, Fundación de la Abogacía Española, Asociación Libre de Abogadas y Abogados, and various individuals have expressed concerns about the risks and challenges forLees verder