Death Threats received in humanitarian zone

Three human rights defenders have been threatened by paramilitaries in the port city of Buenavenutra, southern Colombia, following the creation of the Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero, a civilian initiative to protect the mainly Afro-descendant community.

On 22 April, a paramilitary threatened to kill human rights defender Danilo Rueda of the NGO Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz) in the Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero in the Comuna 4 District of the city of Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca Department. Danilo Rueda and other human rights defenders were following a paramilitary who had tried to recruit children in the Humanitarian Zone. At the edge of the Humanitarian Zone, the paramilitary drew a machete and said “If you come closer I will cut you up” (Si se acerca lo pico). On 12 April, 16-year-old Carlos Andrés Angarita Jimenes was tortured, killed and dismembered by paramilitaries near the humanitarian zone, in spite of the strong presence of the armed forces in the area. His killing is one of many to have taken place in the city.

Since the creation of the Humanitarian Zone of Puente Nayero on 13 April, human rights defender Orlando Castillo has received repeated death threats by paramilitaries. On 22 April the community of the Humanitarian Zone was informed that there was an order to kill Orlando Castillo. He has also received threats in phone calls and paramilitaries told others in the community that they would kill him. On 23 April human rights defender Luis Yasmani Grueso Sinisterra, who has also been working with the community, was told by a relative that paramilitaries had also threatened to kill him.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

 Expressing concern for the safety of Danilo Rueda, Orlando Castillo, Luis Yasmani Grueso Sinisterra and other human rights defenders and the mainly Afro-descendant community of Buenaventura, and urging the authorities to provide effective protection for them in accordance with their wishes.

 Calling on the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into paramilitary threats against the human right defenders and inhabitants of Buenaventura, to publish the results and bring those responsible to justice.

 Urging the government to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and break their links with the security forces, in line with repeated UN recommendations.

Presidente Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República, Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8, No. 7-26
Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 596 0631

Salutation: Dear President Santos / Excmo Sr. Presidente Santos
Defence Minister
Señor Juan Carlos Pinzón
Ministerio de Defensa
Carrera 54, No. 26-29
Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 266 1003

Salutation: Dear Minister Pinzón/
Sr. Ministro Pinzón
And copies to:
Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz
Calle 61A, No. 17-26
Bogotá, Colombia