The work of a Human Rights Defender is a vocation for life. We monitor day by day the conflict and systematic violations of human rights in the department of Sucre.
Ingrid Vergara Chavéz is a human rights defender and spokesperson for the Sucre branch of Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado – MOVICE (Movement of Victims of State Crimes). MOVICE is a country-wide human rights movement that demands justice and an end to impunity for crimes committed by the Colombian state, often in collusion with paramilitaries. MOVICE directly highlights the involvement of state security forces and paramilitaries in human rights violations against citizens, and as a result its members have suffered serious security violations in a bid to deter them from continuing with their important work.
Ingrid Vergara Chavéz has focused much of her work on the issue of land rights in the department of Sucre, in particular advocating for the return of lands to displaced communities. This is a stance that goes against the economic interests of the State and the paramilitaries, who often seek to displace families and grant lands to large-scale development projects.
As a direct result of her human rights work, Vergara Chavéz receives constant death threats and intimidations. Four of her colleagues in MOVICE were killed since 2014. The death threats against Ingrid Vergara Chavéz have taken many forms including public pamphlets, voice mails, emails, notes, verbal threats and surveillance and all of which threaten her to immediately cease her human rights work or pay the price with her life and the lives of her family. On occasion, the threats have been accompanied by physical bullets, and her daughters and partner have also been individually named and threatened.
As a result of the very real and imminent nature of the threats, HRDs at the most risk are granted security measures through the Colombian National Protection Unit. However, despite Vergara Chavéz being granted these protection measures, they have only been partially implemented and have failed to reduce her level of risk. Furthermore, on occasion Vergara Chavez and other HRDs have raised the issue of threats with the local authorities, and the local police have inferred that the threats have been invented by the human rights defenders, and they would not be using police resources to investigate them.
In 2016, Ingrid Vergara Chavez was selected as one of the finalists of the 2016 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.