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PRESS RELEASE: Concern over the arrests of the last weeks in Colombia that may affect the way to peace.

OIDHACO expresses concern about arrests in Colombia over the last few days which could affect the road to peace in the country.


Brussels, 9 May 2018


OIDHACO expresses concern about arrests in Colombia over the last few days which could affect the road to peace in the country.


On 20 April 2018, more than 30 people were arrested in the departments of Nariño, Cauca and Valle del Cauca, including social leaders and human rights defenders linked to different community organising processes. The Public Prosecutor's Office has accused them of being linked to the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) guerrilla and, although some of these people have subsequently been released, others continue to be held in detention.


A number of social organisations have reported the lack of legal guarantees during these arrests and the conditions in which the people deprived of their liberty are being held. They have also drawn attention to the moment in which these arrests have occurred, with the country immersed in a presidential electoral process. They say that these arrests against the social movement have diverted public interest away from other problems that require the attention of the authorities.


Meanwhile, on Monday 9 April, Seuxis Paucias Hernández Solarte, also known as 'Jesus Santrich', a member of the Common Revolutionary Alternative Force (FARC) political party, was arrested after a request from Interpol, accused of drug trafficking after the limit marked by the Peace Agreement as the end of the conflict between the Colombian State and the former guerrilla of the FARC-EP. In this case, Article 19 of Legislative Act 01 of 2017 stipulates that it corresponds to the Unit for the Review of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace to evaluate "the alleged conduct to determine the precise date it was carried out and to decide the appropriate procedure" before deciding on possible extradition.


In light of the above, the International Office on Human Rights - Action Colombia (OIDHACO) would like to express its concern and convey its desire for an early clarification of the accusations made against the group of social leaders and human rights defenders in the south-west of Colombia, with due guarantees for the accused. OIDHACO also hopes that the procedure established under the Peace Agreement and its accompanying legislation will be duly respected in the case of 'Jesús Santrich'.


In order to prevent possible negative consequences for the Colombian peace process, OIDHACO calls upon the European Union (EU), its Member States, Switzerland, Norway and the OHCHR:


  • Follow closely the judicial processes related to these cases and request that the Colombian authorities ensure guarantees for due process and compliance with the Peace Agreement.
  • Continue to express strong support for the peace process in Colombia: both the implementation of the Agreement with the FARC-EP and the negotiations with the ELN.
  • Urge the various candidates in the Colombian presidential election process to respect and act responsibly when discussing these judicial processes and to express their support for the Peace Agreement, the progress in its implementation and the negotiations with the ELN.


For further information, contact Miguel Choza Fernández, OIDHACO Coordinator, at , or on tel.+32 2 5361913.


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