From our friends at Latin America Working Group:
You might get the impression from reading the news that everything is
much better in Colombia. But what we hear from the ground is that human
rights defenders, land rights leaders, union activists, Afro-Colombian
and indigenous communities all remain in danger. And justice is still in
So as Secretary Kerry makes his first trip to Colombia as head of the
State Department this Sunday, let’s give him a piece of our minds and
make sure peace, human rights and justice are brought to the forefront
of his agenda.
Click here to ask Secretary Kerry to support peace and reinforce human rights in his visit to Colombia!
With his more inclusive discourse, his focus on the Victims’ Law, and
actively pursuing peace negotiations, it’s easy to see why the U.S.
government would be so easily carried away by the real positives of Juan
Manuel Santos’ presidency. There is real hope for change with the
government and guerrillas seated at peace talks in Havana, and our
government should actively support these peace talks.
Yet a recently passed constitutional reform severely restricts access to justice for the victims of the false positives scandal.
This setback for justice opens the door for human rights violations
committed by soldiers to be investigated and tried in military courts,
the same courts where justice is everywhere but present. This “reform”
could send some of the cases of more than 3,500 civilians who were
killed by soldiers, often to up their body counts, back to military
We’ve listened to the stories of the families who
lost their family members at the hands of the Colombian military. So
we know it is imperative that Secretary Kerry makes it clear to the
Colombian government that advances in security must not come at the
expense of justice. This “reform” violates the human rights conditions
tied to U.S. military aid, and Secretary Kerry must decline to certify
that Colombia meets the human rights conditions.
Click here to send State a clear message today: if you care about human rights, do not certify!
We have a chance to influence the topics of discussion for Secretary
Kerry’s upcoming trip. Let’s make sure our government strongly supports
peace, but also addresses the empty chair in the peace talks, where victims of violence and members of civil society have
been excluded, with a very limited role in determining the outcome of a
negotiation that will shape the world in which they live. Let’s make
sure the U.S. government continues to advocate for protecting human
rights defenders, as over 37 have been murdered from
January to June of this year. Even as peace negotiations unfold, the
displacement crisis continues; threats against labor activists,
indigenous and Afro-descendent communities, and land activists persist.
Let Secretary Kerry know that we support peace, with a role for the victims of violence, in Colombia!
Supporting peace, but not certifying the Colombian government at this
time, sends a clear message that peace is essential but human rights and
justice cannot be negotiated away in Havana.
Thank you for taking action to support human rights and justice!