Joint letter on behalf of Adil Melendez
In a joint letter Lawyers for Lawyers, the Colombian Caravana, the Foundation of the Spanish National Bar Association, the International Observatory of Lawyers and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada expressed concerns about the withdrawal of security measures from Adil Meléndez.
Adil Jose Meléndez Marquez is a prominent Colombian human rights lawyer. He is one of the few lawyers working on land restitution cases, and the prosecution of the (para)military in the northern Bolivar region. As a result of his work he has been targeted and threatened. There have been mulitple attempts at his assassination over the past few years. As we understand the acute risk he faces as a human rights lawyer has not diminished.
In December 2018 Adil Meléndez’s bullet proof car was withdrawn by the National Protection Unit (UNP) and instead he was provided with a standard car. Mr Meléndez had been provided with an armoured car in recognition of the acute risks he faces as a human rights lawyer. These risks have not disappeared. Furthermore Mr Meléndez reported that one of his two bodyguards, also assigned to him by the UNP, has not provided protection to him since 25 February 2019, when both bodyguards failed to arrive for work. We are informed that the other bodyguard has resumed his work. In effect, for over a week, Mr Meléndez has been left without the protection measures granted to him by the UNP and can currently rely on one bodyguard only.
Moreover Mr Meléndez has reported that his whereabouts and communications are leaked to paramilitaries and that he is deeply concerned that members of these illegal armed groups are able to anticipate and follow his movements. Without proper protection provided by the UNP he is at even higher risk of being attacked, threatened, or intimidated. If paramilitary groups are aware of his movements, a reduction in his protection measures may quickly come to the attention of his would-be attackers and further increase his risk.
In the joint letter, the organizations called on the UNP to take all measures necessary to guarantee the security of Adil Meléndez and conduct a full investigation into the alleged leaks of his whereabouts.
A Spanish version of the letter can be found here
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