Human Rights Defenders in Colombia Receive Death Threats

June 9, 2011

Colombia, South America

COLOMBIA.– On 7 June,  Julio Cesar Rosero, a lawyer representing Jenny Torres (a member of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes [MOVICE]), received an email containing a death threat.

The message read, “this message is for the lawyer Julio Cesar Rosero, for Martha Giraldo and all her organization of bandits, for Jenny Torres … if the soldiers are convicted, the lawyer and la negra [Jenny Torres] will die, last warning, this is serious, very serious” (este mensaje es para el abogado Julio Cesar Rosero, para Martha Giraldo y toda su organización de vandoleros, para Jenny Torres … si condenan a los militares muere el abogado y la negra ultima advertencia es en serio muy enserio).

 Julio Cesar Rosero is representing Jenny Torres in the trial of eight members of a Special Forces group of the armed forces.

On 14 January 2007 Jenny Torres’ husband, Edison Yimel Villanueva, and three other men were killed in the village of La Reforma, a rural area of Cali in theValle del Cauca Department. The men were later falsely identified as guerrillas killed in combat.

Julio Cesar Rosero and Jenny Torres also received death threats on 2 June. A text message sent to both of them that read: “Son-of-a-bitch you are going to die for snitching on the heroes of the fatherland, greetings to la negra [Jenny Torres] son-of-a-bitch guerrillas” (Hijo de puta te vas a morir por sapo at [sic] los héroes de la patria saludes a negra hp guerrilleros).

Extrajudicial executions carried out by the paramilitary and security forces as a component of their counter-insurgency strategy have been widespread. Currently, the Attorney General’s Office is investigating more than 2,000 cases of killings reportedly committed by the security forces.

MOVICE is a coalition of civil society organizations campaigning for truth, justice and reparation for the victims of Colombia’s devastating internal armed conflict. The organization has documented and exposed many cases of killings and enforced disappearance carried out by the security forces and paramilitary forces.

Members of MOVICE campaigning for justice frequently face death threats from paramilitary and security forces.

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