IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of a Woman Who is an Afro-Descendant Leader and a Human Rights Defender and Her Family in Colombia

October 11, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 80/21 on October 4, 2021, to grant precautionary protection measures in favor of S.G.R.Q. and her family in Colombia, in the belief that they face a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

As it considered this request for precautionary measures, the Commission noted that the proposed beneficiary, as a human rights defender and a community leader, faces risks that are made worse by gender stereotypes, historic discrimination, and prejudice concerning how women should dress and act and the roles they should play within society. The Commission stressed that the proposed beneficiary's specific vulnerability is heightened by the fact that she is an Afro-descendant woman and an older person who has been subjected to forced displacement. The IACHR highlighted the specific risks she faces based on the intersection of these factors. The Commission further stressed that the proposed beneficiary's ability to freely pursue her activities as a social leader and human rights defender has been seriously compromised.

The Commission noted that, in January 2021, it already expressed concern about the sustained violence against human rights defenders and social leaders that was evident in Colombia during 2020. The IACHR said that individuals with community leadership roles and people who held indigenous or Afro-descendant leadership positions made up the largest proportion of the total number of victims in 2020. Valle del Cauca was identified, among other departments, as particularly high-risk for the defense of human rights.

The Commission commended the State for the information it submitted in keeping with Article 25 of the IACHR's Rules of Procedure, concerning investigations into the violence suffered by the proposed beneficiary and her family. However, the Commission observed that the State had failed to provide detailed and specific information about the investigations that might have been launched and about any concrete progress they might have made, which is relevant to the extent that risks have persisted. Further, the Commission noted that the proposed beneficiary allegedly continues to suffer violence, despite having been incorporated to the protection scheme operated by the National Protection Unit (from which she was in any case removed on June 29, 2021).

After assessing the legal and factual allegations submitted by the parties, the Commission told Colombia that S.G.R.Q. and her family face serious and urgent problems, since their rights to life and personal integrity risk suffering irreparable harm. The IACHR therefore asks Colombia to take the following action:

  1. adopt any measures necessary to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of S.G.R.Q. and her family (in particular, the State must ensure that all protection measures implemented are effective and adequate and incorporate suitable ethnic–racial and gender perspectives, based on the risks that have been identified in Resolution 80/21 and in response to the shortcomings that have been highlighted);
  2. take all protection measures necessary for S.G.R.Q. to be able to continue to do her work as a community leader and human rights defender safely;
  3. come to an agreement with beneficiaries and their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken; and
  4. report on any actions adopted to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

  1. As requested by the organization who requested these precautionary measures, the Commission has decided to withhold the beneficiaries' identities, which have however been fully established in these proceedings and in the documents that have been sent to the State.
  2. IACHR. . OEA/Ser.L/V/II., Doc. 207/17, December 29, 2017, paragraphs 43, 146; IACHR. . OEA/Ser.L/V/II., Doc. 66, December 31, 2011, paragraph 283.

No. 270/21

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