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Colombia–Update: Renewed death threats against Mr Abelardo Sánchez Serrano and members of CREDHOS
The Colombian human rights organisation Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos has received renewed death threats against its members.
Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos - CREDHOS (the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights) provides training and education on human rights issues and International Humanitarian Law, and collects complaints regarding human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by paramilitary groups and members of the security forces, particularly those relating to extrajudicial killings in the region.
On 29 March 2012, at approximately 8.15 am, Mr Wilfran Cadena Grandado, Vice President of CREDHOS, entered their offices and found two Manila envelopes, each of which contained a nine millimetre calibre bullet and a pamphlet with a death threat from the paramilitary group known as Los Botalones, directed at himself and his CREDHOS colleagues María Ravelo Grimaldo, Abelardo Sánchez Serrano and María Calderon Credhos Rangel. The pamphlet stated that the paramilitary group were informing the community of Barrancabermeja that they had declared the aforementioned human rights defenders to be military targets.
This new threat against CREDHOS members forms part of an ongoing campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment against CREDHOS and other human rights organisations operating in the region. On 2 May 2012, Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal when two unidentified persons were witnessed taking photographs of the home of Vladimir Amaya Garcés, a security guard assigned to Abelardo Sánchez Serrano for his protection. Front Line Defenders also issued an urgent appeal in January 2012 following a threat by armed individuals against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano during which he was warned that he had 72 hours to leave the city. Abelardo Sánchez Serrano was a participant at the Front Line Defenders Sixth Dublin Platform in September 2011.
Mr David Rabelo Crespo, spokesperson for CREDHOS, has been imprisoned since September 2010 on charges of aggravated murder brought about as a result of accusations made against him by a former member of a paramilitary group. The final verdict in his case is expected in the next few weeks.
Between 1991 and 1992 six active members of CREDHOS were killed and others were forced into exile. Members of CREDHOS and other social organisations in the region received nine death threats in 2008 signed by alleged paramilitary groups and 12 death threats between 2009-2011.
Front Line Defenders believes that the death threat against Wilfran Cadena Granado, María Ravelo Grimaldo, Abelardo Sánchez Serrano and María Calderon Credhos Rangel is directly related to their legitimate and peaceful human rights work, and in particular their membership of CREDHOS.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders, and calls on the Colombian authorities to ensure their protection, and to carry out an immediate investigation into the threats, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Colombia. HERE