Further harassment and threats against the human rights lawyers group "Jose Alvear Restrepo".

The Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo", a non-governmental human rights organization has advised the national and international community that it has been the victim of further serious threats.

1. On the night of Friday 13th May, upon arrival at her home, the President of the Lawyers' Group, SORAYA GUTIERREZ ARGUELLO, was given a strange packet from the security guard of the residential complex where she lives. This had been left by a mail company and was opened by national police given the concern that it might be an explosive of some kind. Inside the packet was a headless doll which had been dismembered. Parts of it had been burned and it was covered in red nail varnish - to look like blood - with a cross drawn on its body. With the doll was a handwritten note saying "You have a beautiful family, look after them and "don't sacrifice them".

2. In the classified section of the newspaper EL TIEMPO, of Friday 13th May, without instructions from the Lawyers' Group, an announcement appeared stating as follows: "LAWYERS, psychologists, sociologists, other professionals and students of such professions, with or without experience, immediate start date. Ask for Jose Alvear Restrepo. Telephones: 2846120, 2846040, 2849614, 2812285, 2814430"

In the context of the current situation in Colombia, this press announcement constituted a threatening message against all members of the Lawyers' Group implying that there are imminent risks of attack against the group members which could result in vacant positions becoming available.

3. In the same section of the newspaper EL TIEMPO, on Saturday 14th May, and again without instructions of the Lawyers' Group, another announcement appeared stating as follows: "SECURITY GUARDS, either sex, required by well-known firm, with or without experience. EXCELLENT REMUNERATION. Immediate start. Interviews Saturday 14th May 2005, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Bring resumé to Calle 16 No. 6-66, Oficina 2506. Edificio Avianca. Ask for Jose Alvear."

The advertisement seeking security guards is highly significant as it indicates that the Lawyers' Group is "under permanent surveillance" and/or is "vulnerable" or unsafe. Similarly, the interviews referred to in the advertisement happened to coincide with the date, time and place of a meeting of the victims of crimes against humanity scheduled to take place at the offices of the Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo". The message can therefore be understood to order the sabotage of the meeting and to terrorise the victims in order to obtain their silence with respect to their claims for truth, justice and reparation. It is also worth noting that usually the Lawyers' Group is not open for business on Saturdays.

The acts complained of in this urgent action are understandable in the context of the work carried out by the human rights Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo" - and other social and human rights organizations together with organizations for victims of crimes against humanity - in their efforts to obtain truth, justice and reparation within the background of the processes of "dialogue-demobilisation" between the State paramilitaries, and the process which is attempting within a legal framework to ensure impunity for the grave human rights violations committed by these organizations. In the draft legislation on the subject, there is absolutely no reference whatever to state responsibility for the emergence, development and consolidation of paramilitarism nor, as a consequence, State responsibility for the systematic and large-scale crimes against humanity committed by paramilitarism.

Doubtless these attacks are intended to silence the voices of dissent and to impede the victims to organise themselves in order to raise their claims to their rights to truth, justice and full reparation


The targeting of, and harassment and threatening acts against the Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo" have increased and the situation has deteriorated since the statements made by the President of the Republic ALVARO URIBE VELEZ, in public speeches in the months of September 2003 and February 2004. In the course of these he launched an attack against human rights organizations and in particular the Lawyers' Group, and has since retracted none of his remarks despite requests to do so by international organizations. Since that time, various senior employees of the Government have targeted the Lawyers' Group with complete impunity, as we denounced in due time. The Lawyers' Group has expressly pointed out that the State is exclusively responsible for the attacks against it.


In view of the foregoing we ask the national and international community to write to the Colombian authorities and demand:

1. That it guarantees the exercise of the defence of human rights free of any persecution whatsoever. In this context, we ask the community to demand that the President retracts his repeated verbal attacks against human rights organizations and in particular against the human rights Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo".

2. That it guarantees the physical and psychological safety of Doctor SORAYA GUTIERREZ ARGUELLO, President of the Lawyers' Group "José Alvear Restrepo", as well as that of the other members of this non-governmental human rights organization.

3. That it offers guarantees for the organizational process by the victims of crimes against humanity in furtherance of their defence of their rights to truth, justice and full reparation.

4. That it guarantees an independent, impartial and effective investigation of the complaints made in order to achieve due process with respect to and punishment of those responsible.

Please send your communications to the following authorities:

  • Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Presidencia de la República Cra. 8 No..7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Bogotá, D.C.Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71 E-mail: auribe@presidencia.gov.co ;
  • Dr. Francisco Santos Vicepresidencia de la República E-mail:fsantos@presidencia.gov.co
  • Dr. Jorge Alberto Uribe Ministerio de Defensa Nacional El Dorado con Carrera. 52 CAN, Bogotá, D.C. Fax: (+57 1)222.18.74 E-mail: siden@mindefensa.gov.co, infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co , mdn@cable.net.co
  • Dr. Edgardo José Maya Villazón Procuraduría General de la Nación Carrera 5 No. 15-80 Bogotá, D.C. Fax: (+57 1)342.97.23 E-mail: reygon@procuraduria.gov.co ; anticorrupcion@presidencia.gov.co
  • Dr. Carlos Franco Programa Presidencial de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario. Calle 7 N° 5-54 TEL: (+571) 336.03.11 FAX: (+57 1) 337.46.67 E- mail: cefranco@presidencia.gov.co; E-mail: fibarra@presidencia.gov.co
  • Dr. Luis Camilo Osorio Fiscalía General de la Nación Diagonal 22 B No.52-01 Bogotá, D.C. Fax: (+571) 570 20 00 E-mail: contacto@fiscalia.gov.co; denuncie@fiscalia.gov.co
  • Unidad de Derechos Humanos y de Derecho Internacional Humanitario E - mail: elbsilva@fiscalia.gov.co
  • Dr. Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz. Defensoría del Pueblo Calle 55 No. 10-32 Bogotá, D.C. Fax: (+571) 640 04 91 E-mail:secretaria_privada@hotmail.com
  • Dr Michael Frühling Oficina en Colombia del Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos Calle 114 No. 9-45 Torre B Oficina 1101. Edificio Teleport Bussines Park. Bogotá, D.C. Teléfono PBX (57-1) 629 3636 Fax (57-1) 629 3637 E-mail:oacnudh@hchr.org.co.
Bogotá, 15 de mayo de 2005
Corporación Colectivo de Abogados "José Alvear Restrepo"

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