Crimes Against Human Rights Defenders Are Crimes Against Humanity
The Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice determined that crimes perpetrated against human rights defenders and land claimants in Colombia are crimes against humanity, following the ruling in which the court denied a retrial for the murder of human rights defender Gloria Lara in Echeverri in 1982.
This is without a doubt a historic ruling for crimes against human rights defenders in Colombia.
The cases in which a defender of human rights or a claimant of land is killed shall be classified from now on as crimes against humanity. This was made clear by Magistrate Leonidas Bustos, President of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice on Monday, which made a historic public ruling for human rights defenders in Colombia.
The High Court noted that these crimes belong in the category of crimes against humanity, as they are part of systematic persecution with a clear and established criminal end. “In the cases cited we can see the circumstances from which the motives derive that produce attacks against this population group, the inhumane acts of murder, torture, forced disappearances etc., perpetrated against this group because they dared to assert human rights or the recovery of their lands”, said the Judge.
The announcement was made public by a ruling in which the Criminal Court denied a review action requested by the Attorney General’s Office to reopen the process for the kidnapping, torture and murder of the director of Community Action, Gloria Lara de Echeverri, in November of 1982, arguing that this was a crime against humanity.
This decision comes weeks after national Human Rights Day in Colombia, during which disturbing facts surfaced to do with human rights defenders. During the last week of August and the first week of September, the We Are Defenders Program (Programa Somos Defensores) learned of five cases of aggression against leaders and defenders of human rights in Atlántico, Santander, Antioquia y Bogotá, where victims suffered attempts on their lives, torture, sexual violence and information theft and cyber attacks.
These acts of violence are added to the 239 attacks in 2011 and the 163 attacks documented by the Information System of Aggressions against Defenders of Human Rights (ISAAHRD), of the We Are Defenders Program, between January and June 2012. Between the years 2010, 2011 and the first half of 2012, the ISAAHRD We Are Defenders Program registered the murder of 110 human rights defenders.
Coordinator of We Are Defenders Program