Colombie


2013-2016


Promoting the Full Implementation of the Principles of the Rome Statute (ICC2)


The project involved LWBC in national discussions on transitional justice models to be considered in order to promote a return to peace, including the presence of an observer before the Constitutional Court in a hearing on the establishment of a legal framework for peace.

The lawyers supported by the project successfully argued that systematic attacks against civilians belonging to trade unions, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions of civilians (presented by members of the Colombian armed forces as guerrillas who died in combat), constitute crimes against humanity. An important step has been taken to fight impunity.

The project also allowed lawyers to act in a more targeted way on judicial mechanisms that promote impunity. An analysis of the cases pleaded by its partners was carried out in order to identify the main obstacles to access to justice: unjustified delays, threats made against victims, witnesses and prosecutors and lack of institutional independence.

LWBC produced an analysis that presented transitional justice mechanisms to address the legal situation of combatants who have committed abuses against the civilian population.

In recognition of the rigour of its analysis, particularly on forced displacement and gender-based violence (GBV), LWBC was invited by the Minister of Justice to participate in the identification of transitional justice mechanisms to ensure victims' right to truth, non-repetition and reparation as part of the implementation of peace agreements between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

PHOTO GALLERY


Local partners


Asociación colombiana de abogados defensores Eduardo Umaña Mendoza (ACADEUM)

Solidarity Fund with Colombian Judges (FASOL)

WOLA


Financiel partner


European Commission - European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights



2010-2013


Promoting the Full Implementation of the Principles of the Rome Statute (ICC1)


As part of the talks leading to a peace agreement in Colombia, and with the collaboration of ASF Belgium and the support of the European Union (EU), LWBC launched a new project to promote and implement the principles of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court at the national level.

The project contributed to the opening of a new office and supported the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CAJAR) in obtaining convictions of senior officials for serious human rights violations.

In particular, the CAJAR obtained the 25-year prison sentence of the former head of Colombia's Administrative Department of Security, Jorge Noguera, for maintaining ties with paramilitary leaders and providing them with lists of persons to be murdered, a key issue in the fight against ties between state officials and illegal armed groups.

The Colombian Supreme Court recognized that Noguera provided paramilitary groups with lists of people who were subsequently murdered. Five soldiers were also convicted of participating in the murder of a representative of indigenous peoples.

The CAJAR's work has produced historical results, such as the recognition of the jurisdiction of ordinary courts over that of military courts in cases of human rights violations. This has led to an unprecedented wave of public attacks by senior government officials, including accusations that it incited victims to lie in order to gain illicit wealth.

In order to show solidarity with its partner in preserving the two most precious values of human rights defenders, ethics and credibility, LWBC worked with the country's authorities and professional associations of lawyers to restore the CAJAR's reputation in public opinion.


Local partners


Asociación colombiana de abogados defensores Eduardo Umaña Mendoza (ACADEUM)

Solidarity Fund with Colombian Judges (FASOL)

WOLA


Financial partner


European Commission - European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights



2010-2013


Access to Justice for Indigenous Communities and Other Victims of the Conflict (Phase 2)


The Access to Justice for Indigenous Communities and Victims of Conflict project focused specifically on supporting lawyers working for indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities. This phase also focused on targeted support for litigation work carried out by the legal department of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).

The organization contributed to the training of nearly 600 members of indigenous communities particularly affected by the conflict and provided their lawyers and jurists with the tools to defend their rights and acquire the legal means to make access to justice a reality.

In the presence of the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the public launch directly contributed to the reduction of the military aid budget allocated by the British army to Colombian forces, a highlight that demonstrated the scope and concrete impacts of the work carried out by LWBC and its partners.

LWBC approached the International Criminal Court (ICC) to encourage it to open an investigation to demonstrate that Colombia was not complying with its obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for international crimes on its territory.

LWBC joined with ASF Brussels to promote the use and effectiveness of ICC mechanisms to demonstrate that the country has the jurisdiction to investigate individuals whose criminal responsibility is supported by credible information.

The fight against impunity took a significant step forward and became more and more a reality. The project contributed to the conviction of six Colombian soldiers for the murder of an indigenous leader and lead to the publication of a trial observation report.

The CAJAR also obtained significant guilty verdicts in favour human rights defenders, including the conviction of soldiers for the 1985 assault on the Bogota Palace of Justice, which resulted in the deaths of 5 guerrillas and 11 judges.


Local partners


Asociación colombiana de abogados defensores Eduardo Umaña Mendoza (ACADEUM)

Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR)

Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC)


Project partners


Assembly of First Nations

ASF Belgique

ASF France

British Human Rights Committee

Centro Internacional de Derechos Humanos y Desarrollo Democrático (Derechos y Democracia)

Clinique internationale de défense des droits humain de l'UQAM (CIDDHU)

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)

Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG)

UK-Colombia Caravana Lawyers Group


Financial partner


Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)



2008-2009


Access to Justice for Indigenous Communities and Other Victims of the Conflict (Phase 1)


The project coordinated the launch of a Caravan of lawyers with its partners from the CAJAR and the Colombian Association of Human Rights Defenders Eduardo Umaña Mendoza (ACADEUM). Present in Bogota and in six regions, and bringing together 53 lawyers from 8 countries, it was the first international observation mission of human rights lawyers in the country.

With the help of decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and Colombian courts, LWBC succeeded in demonstrating that links between various levels of government and paramilitaries were continuing to exist. These links were evident following a wave of arrests, charges and prison sentences against politicians, civil servants and members of the security forces. 

The commission's final report repeatedly cited LWBC'S work, including the adoption of concrete measures to end the relationship between the state and paramilitaries and the need to protect lawyers, judges, civil servants, citizens and civil society organizations working to promote human rights in the country.


Local partner


Asociación colombiana de abogados defensores Eduardo Umaña Mendoza (ACADEUM)

Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR)

Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia (ONIC)


Project partners


Assembly of First Nations

ASF Belgique

ASF France

British Human Rights Committee

Centro Internacional de Derechos Humanos y Desarrollo Democrático (Derechos y Democracia)

Clinique internationale de défense des droits humain de l'UQAM (CIDDHU)

Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)

Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (HTG)

UK-Colombia Caravana Lawyers Group


Financial partner


Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT)



2006-2008


The legal process of demobilizing illegal armed groups was at the heart of the organization's concerns. LWBC continued its mission of engaging the Canadian public by intervening on behalf of Colombian lawyers who were refugees in Quebec at the time.

LWBC's work with local partners promoted the investigation of assaults on lawyers. During this period, the organization met with several key justice sector stakeholders.

In conjunction with the Association of American Jurists (AAJ), LWBC even published its first international report, which addressed the worrisome situation of lawyers practising in the country. A report was delivered in person to the United Nations Special Rapporteur.



2003-2005


Solidarity and Defence of Defence Counsel


The project launched the beginning of ASF's official involvement in Colombia. The project aimed to support lawyers under threat and provided training to defence lawyers on the new criminal justice system in the country.

In a context of increasing criminalization of defence counsel, the implementation of the 2004-2005 Training and Protection Program for Human Rights Defenders allowed LWBC to carry out six missions during which nine different lawyers were involved in more than 60 activities in 11 cities. In total, more than 1100 people directly benefited from ASF Quebec's activities in the following areas:

  • support for lawyers facing security concerns;
  • training on human rights and the legal profession;
  • the sharing of experience in the context of the reform of the Colombian Criminal Code;
  • the creation of a professional bar association.

In light of the many attacks and dramatic situations experienced by lawyers in the country and to have an impact on human rights violations, LWBQ prioritized denunciation, intervention, accompaniment and follow-up actions. Priority was also given to strengthening the solidarity network in the profession.

The issues of the right to truth and reparation, the fight against impunity and the representation of victims in a context of demobilization of paramilitary groups also became central to the continuation of this project.


Thanks to our partners without borders

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