For Immediate Release
Amnesty International Calls for Speedy Resolution in Case of Pregnant Colombian Human Rights Defender; Demands Adequate Healthcare
LONDON - Amnesty International is calling on authorities in Colombia to take fast action on the case of a pregnant human rights defender who was arrested in the north-eastern city of Bucaramanga, Colombia on November 16, on charges of having links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Carolina Rubio last month returned from Brussels where she represented Colombian human rights and social organizations in a meeting of European human rights organizations and development agencies. During her visit, she met with European Commission representatives and members of the diplomatic community, to whom she presented a report on human rights in the first 75 days of the government of President Juan Manuel Santos.
Rubio, who is more than eight months pregnant, is a member of the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) and of the Committee of Solidarity for Political Prisoners (FCSPP), and is being held in prison despite concerns over her health.
"The Colombian authorities have a duty to investigate any criminal activity and bring to justice those responsible through processes which conform to international standards of fairness," said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia researcher for Amnesty International.
"However, there is a great deal of concern that such arrests are part of a strategy designed to silence and discredit the work of human rights defenders and to distract attention from their exposure of human rights violations."
Her arrest comes at a time of growing concern about threats against and killings of human rights defenders and other social activists, carried out mainly by paramilitary groups.
The evidence against Carolina Rubio appears to be based on information from anonymous informants.
Criminal proceedings against human rights defenders in Colombia have often been based on spurious evidence from paid informants, rather than on evidence gathered in the course of impartial criminal investigations by the civilian investigative authorities.
"The authorities must ensure that due process is respected and that Carolina Rubio's legal situation is resolved speedily," said Pollack. "They must also ensure that she has access to quality health care while in detention. Amnesty International is closely monitoring this case, especially because concerns have been raised about irregularities in the process."
Amnesty International is also monitoring the safety of human rights defenders in Bucaramanga, given that threats against and killings of such activists, either by paramilitaries or members of the security forces, have often followed attempts to advance criminal proceedings against them, particularly when these flawed processes fail.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
We are people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights. Our purpose is to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. We investigate and expose abuses, educate and mobilize the public, and help transform societies to create a safer, more just world.