Take action for William Castillo Chima
On 7 March 2016, human rights defender Mr William Castillo Chima was shot dead in the public establishment of “Los Galvanes”, in Villa Echeverry, in the municipality of El Bagre, Antioquia. The assassination occurred one day after his colleague and fellow human rights defender Ms Maria Dania Arrieta Perez received several death threats in text messages sent to her mobile phone.
William Castillo Chima was a social leader, and the founder and treasurer of Asociación de Hermandades Agroecológicas y Mineras de Guamocó – AHERAMIGUA (Association of Agroecological and Mining Fraternities of Guacomó). AHERAMIGUA, of which Maria Dania Arrieta Perez is a member, is a human rights organisation founded by farmers and miners in Guamocó, Southern Bolívar, that works to defend land rights, and in particular the right of local communities to remain on lands traditionally inhabited by them. AHERAMIGUA has denounced human rights violations perpetrated against communities in the municipality of El Bagre by various actors involved in the armed conflict in the region. Since 2015, conflict in the region has intensified, reportedly due to increasing confrontations between members of the FARC-EP, ELN and the paramilitary group Autodefensas Gaitanistas.
The assassination was carried out at the “Los Galvanes” establishment at approximately 6 pm on 7 March 2016 by unidentified men armed with heavy-duty guns. It occurred following a meeting William Castillo Chima had attended with the municipal authorities, to discuss the city's development plan. This meeting had ended at approximately 4 pm.
Previously, on 3 and 6 March 2016, William Castillo Chima's colleague and fellow human rights defender, Maria Dania Arrieta Perez, received several extremely insulting text messages including direct threats against her life.
Since its creation in 2007, AHERAMIGUA and its members have been subjected to continuous human rights violations including murder, unlawful arrests, detention, physical attacks, attempted killings, threats, harassment and intimidation. On 26 and 28 April 2014, members of the organisation were subjected to harassment and death threats. On 2 February 2014 and 26 March 2014, they were threatened and intimidated by hooded men in military uniform. William Castillo Chima was also arbitrarily detained in the same year.
I strongly condemn the killing of William Castillo Chima and expresse my extreme concern over the death threats made against Maria Dania Arrieta Perez and the escalating threats against members of AHERAMIGUA. I strongly believe these actions to be motivated directly by their legitimate and peaceful human rights work.
i express further concern over the alarming number of human rights defenders killed in Colombia on the verge of the enactment of a peace agreement in the country. As reported by Front Line Defenders, of the 156 human rights defenders that were killed or died in detention in the first eleven months of 2015, Colombia alone accounted for 54 assassinations.
I urge the Colombian authorities to:
1. Strongly condemn the killing of human rights defender William Castillo Chima;
2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of human rights defender William Castillo Chima, the death threats against human rights defender Maria Dania Arrieta Perez and all denounced security incidents against members of AHERAMIGUA, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
3. Take all necessary measures, in consultation with the defenders, to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of family members of William Castillo Chima, Maria Dania Arrieta Perez and her family and of the members of AHERAMIGUA;
Implement the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of these abuses;
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.