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Yirley Judith Velasco Garrido

HRD, Advocate
Asociación Mujeres Sembrando Vida (Women Sowing Life Association)

Yirley Judith Velasco Garrido is a women's human rights defender from the village of El Salado, in the department of Bolivar, in the Caribbean region of Colombia. In her work as an advocate, she has worked as the legal representative of the Asociación Mujeres Sembrando Vida (Women Sowing Life Association). Yirley is a survivor of sexual violence in the El Salado massacre of 2000, and together with other women in the region has worked on behalf of victims of sexual violence in the context of the armed conflict in Colombia, not only in criminal investigations but also in collective recognition and reparation actions.

Since 2019, she has received regular death threats and has been the victim of stigmatisation that has forced her to move several times to safeguard her life. In 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favour of her and her family.

The last couple of years of a peace process has raised hopes for an end to the decades long conflict that has plagued Colombia. However, the negotiations between the government and the FARCs have not had a significant impact on the safety and security of human rights defenders in the country, which remains one of the countries with the highest rates of killing of HRDs in the world. This situation seems to have deteriorated in 2015 with the UN highlighting the alarming number of HRDs killed, with 69 between January and August 2015, while the number was 35 for the same period in 2014.