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Colombia–UPDATE: Renewed threats against human rights defender Mr Abelardo Sánchez Serrano and colleagues in CREDHOS
On 3 August 2012, at 18:24 pm, Mr Abelardo Sánchez Serrano received a threatening SMS message to his mobile telephone in which he was warned of physical threats.
The SMS message to Abelardo Sánchez Serrano read, “Kiubo perros HP ya hicieron lo de ustedes, ahora nos toca a nosostros, reunan a esos HP para el funeral de usted y sus compinches, tranquilos que les mandaremos un ramito bonito [sic]” (What's up sons-of-bitches, now you've done your bit, it's our turn, get all those sons-of-bitches together for the funeral of you and your buddies, don't worry we'll send a pretty bouquet). The message was signed by Los Botolones paramilitary group.
Abelardo Sánchez Serrano is a member of the board of directors of Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos - CREDHOS (the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights). CREDHOS provides training and education on human rights issues and International Humanitarian Law, and collects complaints regarding human rights violations and crimes against humanity committed by paramilitary groups and members of the security forces, particularly those relating to extrajudicial killings in the region. Abelardo Sánchez Serrano was a participant at the Front Line Defenders Sixth Dublin Platform in September 2011.
Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal in January 2012 following a threat by armed individuals against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano during which he was warned that he had 72 hours to leave the city. In May 2012 Front Line Defenders issued an urgent appeal following further intimidation and harassment. Since September 2010, spokesperson of CREDHOS, Mr David Rabelo Crespo, has been imprisoned and is facing prosecution on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime and aggravated murder brought about as a result of accusations made against him by a former member of a paramilitary group. During his detention he has been reportedly subjected to direct threats and harassment. Front Line Defenders have followed the case of David Rabelo Crespo since his detention in September 2010.
Front Line Defenders views this recent threat against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano as forming part of an ongoing campaign of threats, intimidation and harassment of CREDHOS and other human rights organisations operating in the region. Between 1991 and 1992 six active members of CREDHOS were killed and others were forced into exile. Members of CREDHOS and other social organisations in the region received nine death threats in 2008 signed by alleged paramilitary groups and 12 death threats between 2009-2011.
Front Line Defenders believes that the threat against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano is directly related to his work in defence of human rights and in particular his membership of CREDHOS and the work that they do filing complaints of human rights violations committed by both state and non-state actors. Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Abelardo Sánchez Serrano, and other members of CREDHOS, particularly given that precautionary security measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for members of CREDHOS are currently suspended as the Colombian Government has argued that the risk no longer exists as a result of the supposed demobilisation of paramilitary groups in the country.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Colombia. HERE