Crime pays in Colombia: Human rights organisation GIDH closes offices

May 30, 2013

The Grupo Interdisciplinario por los Derechos Humanos GIDH (Interdisciplinary Group for Human Rights), based in Medellín, Colombia, has announced that it has been forced to close its offices based on information that threats received by the organisation in the last months would be realised within the next hours. GIDH is a not-for-profit organisation working with victims of state violence. Front Line Defenders says that in November 2012, GIDH filed a complaint regarding an attack against them, as well the interception of communications and intimidatory phone calls. An immediate and thorough investigation by the government was called for, and the government made some commitments on which they did not follow through. Two months passed before even preliminary research was carried out. The seriousness of the threats and state inaction forced the resignation of one of the most active members of GIDH.  Additionally, two members of GIDH have faced relentless harassment by the Attorney General’s Office, including false allegations which are linked to massacres that occurred in Ituango. The judicial officers in this case, appear to be applying the principle of ‘presumption of guilt’ to the GIDH members. For example, in the course of the investigation it is known that dozens of statements were taken from victims who dispute the charges, however, they do not appear to have been taken into account by the judiciary, and the investigations against members GIDH remain open.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

In light of the threats and persecution that GIDH have been facing, as well as the indifference of the state to their situation, as well as the killing of their colleague Mr Jesús María Valle Jaramillo in 1998, (for which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Colombian state at least partly responsible), the GIDH has decided to close its offices in Medellín for an indefinite period of time.

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