Washington, DC | December 21, 2016 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures to Erlendy Cuero Bravo, Vice-President of the Association of Internally-Displaced Afro-Colombians (AFRODES) on December 6, 2016. The International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights acted as Ms. Cuero Bravo’s legal representative before the Commission, arguing that Colombia is failing to adequately protect her against threats, harassment, and attempts on her life, all related to her work as a human rights defender.
Ms. Cuero Bravo, who advocates on behalf of Afro-Colombian communities in Cali displaced by Colombia’s decades-long internal armed conflict, has survived several assassination attempts. Since 2008, she has received multiple threats signed by known armed paramilitary and criminal groups. Despite repeatedly informing Colombian State agencies charged with protecting human rights defenders about her security situation, Ms. Cuero Bravo has received inadequate protection. The National Protection Unit has either not responded to Ms. Cuero Bravo’s requests for help or has qualified her risk level as “ordinary” on several different occasions.
The security risks Ms. Cuero Bravo faces as a human rights defender in Colombia are unfortunately not unique. As of November 30, 2016, the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights in Colombia reported 35 assassination attempts and 52 murders of human rights defenders in the country. Likewise, earlier in November, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a press release in which it condemned the increase in killings of human rights defenders in Colombia, and noted special concern for the vulnerability of Afro-Colombian leaders.
In its resolution, which references this broader context of violence, the Inter-American Commission found that Ms. Cuero Bravo’s situation satisfies prima facie the elements of seriousness, urgency, and risk of irreparable harm necessary to grant precautionary measures. The Commission requests that Colombia take all measures necessary to protect the life and personal security of Ms. Cuero Bravo, and to allow her to continue her work as a human rights defender free of intimidation, threats, and harassment.
“We are pleased that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has recognized the risks Erlendy is facing to carry out her work as a community leader for some of Colombia’s most vulnerable citizens, when the State failed to do so,” stated Institute Executive Director Carlos Quesada. “Colombia must now comply with the Commission’s request for protective measures.”
The Institute will continue to work partner organization AFRODES and Ms. Cuero Bravo to ensure compliance with the Commission’s resolution in her favor.