- For defenders
- How can I help?
Around 150 organisations and individuals from 40 countries sign on to a letter to Colombian authorities deploring the attacks against Mónica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide.
On 7 May 2012, a shot was fired at the Bogotá office of women's rights organisation Women's Link Worldwide, in an apparent attempt at targeting human rights defender Ms Mónica Roa.
Full Text of joint letter of the letter to Colombian authorities.
Dear Colombian authorities,
On the eve of the sixth anniversary of the historic decision that decriminalized abortion in Colombia, threats have escalated against human rights activist Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide where she works as Director of Programs. On the evening of May 7, 2012, at approximately 6:30 PM an unidentified person fired shots at the Women’s Link Worldwide office in Bogota where Monica and two of her colleagues were working. The bullet broke the office window security glass above Monica’s head. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Monica Roa is a widely known human rights defender who, with Women´s Link Worldwide, filed a lawsuit before the Colombian Constitutional Court six years ago that ended the total abortion ban in Colombia by recognizing abortion as a fundamental right in three circumstances. Since such time she has had bodyguard protection (provided by the Ministry of Justice) as a result of numerous threats directed at her through social media, faxes and phone calls with such warnings as “we will put you in heaven”. During this time Women’s Link Worldwide offices also faced a series of break-ins where their computers were stolen. There is no information at this time about the perpetrators of this crime. The authorities have been contacted but have yet to instigate an investigation into the attack.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. This scare tactic comes at a time when the work to implement the right to abortion in Colombia is under fierce attack. Just two months ago on March 1, Women’s Link learned that a criminal complaint had been filed against Monica by one of the country’s highest officials, Ilva Miriam Hoyos, Deputy Procuradora. To date, the complaint has not been made public.
Subsequently, the intimidation continued. On April 24, yet another computer was stolen through a window from the Women’s Link Worldwide Bogota office. This week’s violent attack on the office reveals a pattern of intimidation and presents fear of escalating danger for Monica Roa and her colleagues.
The undersigned women’s rights and human rights organizations condemn these actions and are gravely concerned for the physical security and well-being of Monica Roa and all Women’s Link Worldwide staff. We demand an end to the ongoing harassment and threats against Women’s Link Worldwide and all reproductive rights defenders in Colombia.
The undersigned call on the Colombian authorities to:
1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the events that took place at Women’s Link Worldwide offices in Bogota on the evening of May 7, 2012, with a view to publishing the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international human rights standards;
2. Make public the criminal complaint filed against Monica Roa so she is able to respond to the allegations against her and exercise her right to a legal defense.
3. Take measures to ensure that government officials or other public figures refrain from further stigmatizing the legitimate work of women human rights defenders in Colombia and, in particular, Monica Roa and Women’s Link Worldwide;
4. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical security and well-being of Monica Roa and all staff at Women’s Link Worldwide;
5. Take all appropriate measures to ensure reproductive rights defenders in Colombia are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions; this should include, at a minimum: passing protective legislation, conducting human rights trainings for those charged with the administration of justice, and promoting human rights education about the important role of women human rights defenders generally and defenders of sexual and reproductive rights in particular.
Full text of the letter, to the Colombian authorities, with list of signatories, is attached below in PDF version.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Colombia. HERE