IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures to Thirteen Members of the La Plata Bahía Municipal Council in Málaga, Colombia

April 10, 2024

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Washington, D.C. — On April 8, 2024, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 19/2024, through which it granted precautionary measures to 13 territorial authorities, social leaders, and defenders of the ethnic-territorial rights of the Community Council of the Black Communities of La Plata Bahía Málaga, located in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca.

The petition alleged that the Community Council of La Plata Bahía Málaga had resisted the attempts of armed individuals to take control of their land by illegal means. On January 22, 2024, an armed group reportedly attempted to take over the Community Council by force, using guns and threats of kidnapping. They returned the following day and fired off rounds of ammunition indiscriminately.

In February, members of the municipal council reportedly received requests to meet with the armed group in a village near Bahía Málaga, which had allegedly become a center of operations for the illegal group. Although these events had been reported and the communities had requested protection, the authorities failed to take effective action, which resulted in the confinement of the communities and the displacement of community leaders.

The IACHR acknowledged the actions taken by the State, particularly the information it provided on the implementation of a humanitarian mission in February 2024 and the follow-up actions taken. However, it deemed that the measures taken did not result in the mitigation of risk factors or the implementation of protection schemes for the proposed beneficiaries. Indeed, the available information shows that violence in the area has intensified, particularly in view of the recent armed incursion and the displacement of the proposed beneficiaries for security reasons.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that the State of Colombia:

  1. adopt the necessary and culturally appropriate measures to protect the lives and personal integrity of the beneficiaries. Among other things, it requested that the State take the measures necessary to guarantee the safe return of the beneficiaries to their community;
  2. take such protective measures as are necessary to enable the beneficiaries to continue their activities in defense of human rights without being subjected to threats, intimidation, harassment, or acts of violence;
  3. agree on any measures to be taken with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and
  4. report on the actions it implements to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to this precautionary measure so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The granting of this precautionary measure and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American System of Human Rights to allege violations of the rights protected by the applicable instruments.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 068/24

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