Public Communiqué: we urge the Colombian State to immediately address the disappearance of Afro-Colombians exiled in Ecuador after being threatened

Bogotá, Colombia, March 4, 2019 – The International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights (Race & Equality) joins its voice to the denunciation issued by the Asociación Nacional de Afrocolombianos Desplazados [National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians] (AFRODES) to forcefully and urgently call on the Colombian State to immediately address the disappearance, since February 27 in Quito, Ecuador, of Plácido Tercero Escalante and Ana Gloria Cabezas, Afro-Colombian victims of forced displacement in Colombia and members of FUNDAFRO, an organization affiliated with the National Association of Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES).

Plácido and Ana Gloria were forced to flee Colombia and request asylum in the neighboring country of Ecuador together with their families in January after receiving numerous threats and receiving no protection from Colombian authorities to guarantee their lives and [physical] integrity.

Erlendy Cuero, Vice President of AFRODES, notes that some days prior to their disappearance Ana Gloria and Plácido had denounced seeing in Quito the persons who had threatened them in their own territory, and for that reason were summoned to issue a declaration before the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Ecuador after they had reported their state of risk.  According to what AFRODES reports, since that day the whereabouts of the two popular social leaders have been unknown.

We strongly condemn what has transpired [and] urge the Colombian State to immediately address the situation of defenselessness and lack of guarantees confronted by popular social sectors that are immersed in an ongoing war in territories being fought over by illegal groups.  Likewise, we urge the international community to publicly denounce the systematic state of risk in which Colombia’s ethnic peoples find themselves, as they are particularly impacted by the social, political, and economic conflict faced by the country.  In addition, we urge Colombian State authorities to act promptly in order to find Ana and Plácido alive.

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