COLOMBIA: Women’s Popular Organization denounces threats by paramilitary groups


16 March 2018
COLOMBIA: Women’s Popular Organization denounces threats by paramilitary groups 

The life and safety of Iris Paola Sánchez is at risk from armed groups and the Colombian authorities are not stepping up to protect her or other members of the Women’s Popular Organization (OFP), whom CPT-Colombia accompanies. 

The extensive work of defending human rights carried out by the Women’s Popular Organization (OFP) is built on their almost half a century of experience in Colombia. Their commitment and professionalism has transformed them into one of the key human rights organizations in the region.   Their work has resulted in threats and direct attacks on their physical, psychological and spiritual integrity as well as the safety of their close relatives.

In regions where the OFP works, despite the recent demobilization of the FARC guerilla group and peace agreements, the presence of illegal armed groups has not diminished. Legal impunity emboldens their threats, intimidation and criminal acts, even in daylight and in public places. Still, law enforcement agencies have dismissed the risks and presence of paramilitary structures in the region, increasing the feeling of insecurity among the people.

“The OFP is concerned about official [government] versions that dismisses the risk, the formal public complaints, and the context of serious risk currently faced by women and communities, due to the repositioning and increased territorial control by armed paramilitary groups in the municipality of Puerto Wilches. It sends the wrong message of social and institutional tolerance of violence. We also demand due diligence in identifying, capturing and prosecuting the perpetrators of these acts, as well as the use of all means available to obtain relevant evidence, to protect the family, the victims and potential witnesses.”

WE DEMAND urgent action be taken to ensure the protection of the life and integrity of Iris Paola Sánchez, a woman Human Rights advocate, a member of the OFP, and a victim of the armed conflict who is in serious risk of possible retaliations by these armed groups.

WE CALL ON THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY to pay special attention and accompany us, and to recommend that the National Government and local authorities ensure the rights of women as political subjects for peace, taking into account their obligations under Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council.”