Father Alberto Franco’s car screen tested with bullets in Colombia

February 14, 2013

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reported that on 13 February 2013, three pellets were fired at the vehicle of Father Alberto Franco, a prominent human rights defender and Executive Secretary of the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz – CIJP (Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace). The CIJP is a church-based human rights organisation working to expose human rights violations committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups in conflict regions in Colombia. The attack follows acts of surveillance and intimidation of Father Alberto Franco during recent weeks and coincides with the hearing of the case “Operation Genesis”, a joint military and paramilitary operation which resulted in the killing and forced disappearance of many civilians; a case which the CIJP has provided key evidence for.

It is suspected that it was to test the level of protective plating in the armoured vehicle used by Father Alberto Franco, which he received as part of a government protection programme, as directed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). In recent weeks, Father Alberto Franco has been subjected to acts of surveillance and intimidation. On 11 February 2013, at approximately 7:30 am, two unknown individuals in a grey Mazda Coupe 323 car were witnessed close to the human rights defender’s home, observing his movements. One of the individuals got out of the car to continue his observations, but upon being sighted by witnesses, got back into the car and left immediately. A similar incident reportedly happened during the morning of 30 January 2013. These acts follow recent statements made by Father Alberto Franco in the media regarding the role of government officials of former President Álvaro Uribe in impeding the restitution of lands and collective farms in the communities of Curvaradó y Jiguamiandó.

see also a related  urgent appeal http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/15100  regarding a break-in and the theft of computer memory sticks containing confidential and sensitive information regarding human rights violations, including information due to be submitted in the “Operation Genesis” case.

Front Line Defenders believes that the above mentioned acts are directly motivated by CIJP’s legitimate work to expose human rights violations committed by state security forces and paramilitary groups.

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