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 of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA-IROL) have written a joint letter to UN Special Rapporteurs and Inter-American Rapporteurs in response to recent threats received by lawyer Reinaldo Villalba Vargas and his legal team from the “Colectivo Jose Alvear Restrepo,” in Colombia.
The letters were sent to the Inter-American rapporteur on freedom of expression, the Inter-American rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders and Justice Operators, as well as to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.
Mr. Villalba has received multiple messages via social media with threats against his life. For example, a message sent via Twitter stated: “we will see you in the street or in the mountains” (a clear reference to a potential attack on him). These threats appear to be related to his professional work as the legal representative of Colombian Senator Ivan Cepeda Castro.
In 2012, the former President of Colombia, Mr. Uribe Velez, denounced Mr. Cepeda before the Supreme Court because of alleged offences of fraud and abuse of a public function. In 2018, the Supreme Court concluded that there were no grounds to open a criminal investigation into the activities of Mr. Cepeda. On 16 February 2018, the Supreme Court opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Uribe for alleged offences of bribing witnesses and fraud, in which Mr. Cepeda is a civil party and victim. On 4 August 2020, the Supreme Court ordered Mr. Uribe’s house arrest.
The increasing threats against Mr. Villalba, his legal team, and his client, as well as continuing public statements by the current President of Colombia and other high officials with regard to the case against Mr. Uribe, undermine judicial independence. Furthermore, they contribute to a growing climate of hostility against members of the legal profession.
The organizations called for interventions to request that the Colombian authorities to, amongst other things, ensure that Mr. Villalba and the legal team working on this case can carry out their professional duties without undue external interference, intimidation or harassment.
View the letter here.
Meer nieuws uit Colombia
Concerns over death threat against Colombian human rights lawyer Adil Meléndez Marquez
Adil José Meléndez Marquez is a prominent Colombian human rights lawyer. He is one of the few lawyers in the country working on land restitution cases, and the prosecution of the (para)military in the northern Bolivar region. He also representsLees verder
UPR submission Colombia
On 5 April 2023, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Colombia. The next UPR of Colombia will take place in November 2023. The UPR report highlights issues regarding Colombia’s compliance with its internationalLees verder
Concerns about the ongoing threats, kidnapping and harassment against Colombian lawyer Andrea Torres Bautista
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the ongoing threats, harassment and the lack of progress in the investigations of aggressions towards Andrea Torres Bautista, Colombian human rights lawyer and co-director of the Fundación Nydia Erik Bautista (FNEB). Andrea Torres headsLees verder
Adil Meléndez Marquez: “When starting a legal case, there is no guarantee at all that it will ever be treated, let alone that environmental and human rights violations are actually punished”
Illustration: Joost Hölscher Adil Meléndez Márquez, 46 years old and born in San Onofre, department of Sucre, Colombia, lives in the north of Colombia in Cartagena de las Indias. He works as an environmental and human rights lawyer and mainlyLees verder