2019 Ludovic Trarieux International Human Rights Award goes to Rommel Durán Castellanos of Colombia

October 22, 2019

On 27 May 2019, the Jury of the 24th Ludovic-Trarieux International Human Rights Prize chose the Colombian lawyer Rommel Durán Castellanos, President of the Equipo Jurídico Pueblos (EJP), as the recipient of the 2019 Prize. The Prize will be officially presented to Mr. Durán Castellanos on 8 November 8 at 5 p.m. at the Salle D of the European Convention Center Luxembourg – ECCL. For further information please contact: uiacentre@uianet.org.

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About the Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights Award and for some 15 other awards for lawyers, see: http://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/ludovic-trarieux-international-human-rights-prize

Rommel Durán Castellanos, 33 years old, is a human rights lawyer and a the president of the ‘Pueblos’ Legal Team (Equipo Juridico Pueblos) and a volunteer with the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP), in Bucaramanga, in the northern Cesar Department, as well as a member of the Santander branch of the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Since 2007, Rommel Durán has been defending marginalized communities and victims of human rights abuses and carrying out grassroots training workshops on human rights and protection mechanisms. In particular, he provides legal assistance to victims of violations in rural areas, where forcibly displaced small-scale producers are attempting to return to their lands, and victims of such crimes as enforced disappearance, torture and killings, perpetrated by State agents and paramilitary groups.
Rommel Durán faces very serious threats to his life due to his work as a lawyer and has first-hand experience of the violence that he seeks to challenge through his work. He is subject to harassment, including to a campaign of threats, attacks and stigmatization because of his work accompanying small-scale farming communities who are claiming the restitution of their lands under the Colombian Victims and Land Restitution Law.
In his work as a member of the ‘Pueblos’ Legal Team, Rommel Durán supports members of the Pitalito community who maintain that they have been forced, at gunpoint, to sell their land at unfairly low prices. Alongside the Directing Committee of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), Rommel Durán accompanied those members of the community who have returned to their lands and has provided them with legal advice and protection during the difficulties they have encountered since their return.
Apart from being stigmatized and falsely (criminally) accused, assumedly by those who have ‘purchased’ the land, the returning members of the community and their (legal) supporters, including Rommel Durán, have also been shot at by armed men during an incident in December 2013 while attempting to verify the state of the community’s crops.
On 9 August 2014, Rommel Durán was arrested in the village Curumaní and detained in poor conditions. The only information given by these policemen at the time was that there was a warrant for alleged conspiracy. However they did not state which judicial office issued the order. His cell phone was snatched from him; he was filmed and photographed illegally and was prevented from calling his own lawyer. He was released after being detained for 20 hours on 10 August. The issue of this certificate suggests that there is no intention holding to account those responsible for Rommel Durán’s arbitrary detention.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/03/11/does-g7-set-a-precedent-with-sotoudeh-for-inviting-human-rights-defenders/

and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/05/28/jailed-human-rights-lawyer-in-uae-awarded-the-2017-ludovic-trarieux-award/

 

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