Jacinta Jones and Gwawr Thomas recently travelled to Colombia as members of the Third International Caravana of Jurists. The Caravana monitors access to justice and threats to the rule of law, in particular threats and violence against lawyers pursuing human rights cases on behalf of indigenous communities, trade unionists, and victims of the violence which has plagued Colombia for decades.
Fifty one Colombian human rights defenders have been assassinated in the last two years; many more have received threats to themselves or their families, or fallen victim to repressive measures hindering their ability to practice, such as interception of privileged communications or groundless disciplinary investigations.
As part of a 45 strong delegation, which included lawyers and judges from the UK, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands, France, Belgium, and Canada, Jacinta and Gwawr travelled to different regions in Colombia (Jacinta to Cali and Gwawr to Cartagena) to gather testimonies from victims, lawyers and regional authorities. The delegation then returned to Bogota for meetings with various national authorities, including the President of the Supreme Court, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, the Land Restitution Office, the Chief Prosecutor, and the Prison Service, as well as several Ambassadors and representatives of the European Union, at which they presented their findings and called upon the authorities to tackle the impunity with which human rights abuses continue across Colombia.
A report of the Caravana's findings, together with a series of recommendations, will be launched in October.