Case History: Oscar Arturo Orozco
On 16 November 2013, human rights defender and trade union leader Mr Óscar Arturo Orozco received a threatening email to both his institutional and personal email accounts. This threat arrived just days after he sustained injuries when his vehicle was attacked by unknown individuals. Since 2011 the SINTRAELECOL offices have been receiving a number of leaflets with messages cut-out from newspapers and magazines threatening the life of Oscar Arturo Orozco.
Oscar Arturo Orozco is President of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Caldas – CUT (Colombian Confederation of Workers) and President of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Energía de Colombia in Caldas – SINTRAELECOL (Electrical Union of Colombia).
On 16 November 2013, human rights defender and trade union leader Mr Óscar Arturo Orozco received a threatening email to both his institutional and personal email accounts. This threat arrived just days after he sustained injuries when his vehicle was attacked by unknown individuals. Óscar Arturo Orozco is President of the Caldas branch of the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores – CUT (Unitarian Workers' Confederation), and is a member of the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado – MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of State Crimes).
On 13 November 2013, at approximately 10:30pm, Óscar Arturo Orozco was driving near Olaya Herrera Park in Manizales, when an unknown object was thrown at the driver's door window of his vehicle. This attack left the human rights defender with injuries to his face and hands from shattered glass. Following the attack, Óscar Arturo Orozco called local police Coronel, José David Benavidez, to ask for protection. He also lodged a complaint with the 'Immediate Reaction Unit' at the National Public Prosecutor's Office, where he handed over his vehicle for ballistic tests to be carried out.
On 16 November 2013, Óscar Arturo Orozco received a threatening email in which he was ordered to “sign the convention now, do not hold these big workers assemblies any more, the order has been given, you were saved on Wednesday night from the attempt on your life, the next time will be stronger. Sign the convention now, no to labour conflicts in the Chec” (OSCAR FIRME YA LA CONVENCION NO VUELVA A HACER ESTAS ACENBLEAS MASIVAS TRABAJADORES LA ORDEN ESTA DADA SE SALVO EL MIERCOLES EN LA NOCHE DEL ATENTADO EL PROCIMO VA CON MAS FUERZA FIRME YA LA CONVENCION CERO CONFLISTO LABORAL EN LA CHEC).
This attack is the latest in a series of incidents targeting the human rights defender. In August 2013 criminal charges were brought against Óscar Arturo Orozco and Wilson Jaramillo, Secretary General of CUT, accusing the two of staging an attack on their own lives in August 2012. The attack referred to in the charges took place on 4 August 2012, when Wilson Jaramillo and Oscar Arturo Orozco and their bodyguards were travelling to the village of Arauca. The car – provided by the National Protection Unit – came under fire at a place some three kilometres from the location of the meeting that both human rights defenders were due to attend; fortunately neither was injured due to swift actions from their bodyguards. The attack followed a death threat addressed to Oscar Arturo Orozco, which had arrived at the CUT offices on 28 May 2012. Despite the level of threat under which the human rights defenders continue to work, the protective measures put in place for their benefit were discontinued approximately three weeks after the attack.
On 30 August 2013, a package containing threats was left in the car park of the CUT-Caldas branch. On 31 August 2013, a similar package was found in the building adjacent to Óscar Arturo Orozco's home. Previously, on 9 April 2013, the trade union leader received an e-mail from the address email@example.com that suggested that information had been gathered relating to his wife and children.
On 4 August 2012 Mr Oscar Arturo Orozco and Mr Wilson Jaramillo were shot at as they travelled to a meeting, despite the fact that they were travelling with Government provided security guards.
Oscar Arturo Orozco is President of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Caldas – CUT (Colombian Confederation of Workers) and President of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Energía de Colombia in Caldas – SINTRAELECOL (Electrical Union of Colombia). Wilson Jaramillo is the Secretary General of CUT Caldas, and both are members of Caldas branch of the Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Estado - MOVICE (National Movement of Victims of the State).
On 4 August 2012 Oscar Arturo Orozco and Wilson Jaramillo were travelling to Arauca to a meeting of fisherfolk from the region, when their vehicle was attacked about 5 kilometres from their destination, in Santagueda, Palestina. The vehicle was shot at more than 14 times by an individual on a motorbike and also from what appeared to a person hiding in a ravine nearby. As a result of the quick reaction by the bodyguards nobody was injured in the incident.
The human rights defenders were en route to chair a meeting with local fisherfolk who have been denouncing environmental irregularities caused by the Central Hidroelectrica de Caldas - CHEC (Caldas Hydroelectric Power), arguing that the adverse effects of the CHEC actions is negatively impacting their livelihoods.
Since 2011 the SINTRAELECOL offices have been receiving a number of leaflets with messages cut-out from newspapers and magazines threatening the life of Oscar Arturo Orozco. In July 2012 one of these leaflets also had photographs of bullet casings.