Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Adriana Beltrán and Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, "Attacking the Defenders in Colombia and Guatemala," Connection to the Americas, November/December 2006.

Intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia and Guatemala have surged over the past year, seriously undermining the promotion of human rights in these two countries. Although efforts to thwart the work of human rights defenders are not new to Latin America, this worrisome trend in Colombia and Guatemala calls for heightened attention and immediate action by the international community.


International attention and action serve to protect human rights defenders and ensure that they can work effectively. Among the specific actions that international governments, organizations and non-governmental organizations can take are:

1) Support and strongly encourage the Guatemalan government to implement the Commission for the Investigation of Illegal Armed Groups and Clandestine Security Organizations (CICIACS), an initiative that is currently being renegotiated with the United Nations. The commission would assist local authorities in investigating and developing prosecutable cases against these groups.

2) Closely monitor Colombia’s paramilitary demobilization process and express concern to the Colombian government regarding the re-armament of these groups and their continuing threats to and attacks on human rights defenders.

3) Increase support for international accompaniment groups, such as Peace Brigades International, that provide unarmed physical protection to human rights organizations in Guatemala and Colombia.

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