System of Early Alerts – SAT
Jorge Enrique Calero Chacón
Public Defender tasked with Evaluation of the existent risks
within the general population as a consequence of the armed conflicts.
January 9, 2009
Risk Report 001-09 A.I., which was issued on January 9, 2009 by way of the System of Early Alerts (SAT) from the Public Defender of Colombia, warns about the continued risk and vulnerability that exists for participants of the League of Displaced Women and the City of Women.
The SAT is an instrument designed by the Office of Public Defender to monitor and give early warning to the segments of the population in particular risk due to the effects of the internal armed conflict and to promote preventative humanitarian action with the desire to protect and ensure the fundamental rights of these people.
It continues to be evident that the most vulnerable sectors are, “leaders, male and female of the organizations for the displaced”, as well as the “defenders of Human Rights”.
“Listed among community groups believed to be especially at risk: The organized women of the League of Displaced Women (LMD); those that are in residence at El Talon, City of Women in the Municipality of Turbaco and those in the neighborhoods of Pozón and Nelson Mandela in the District of Cartagena, these are warnings that have continued to appear in the System of Early Alerts of the Office of Public Defender for the past four years. Those most at risk are the leaders, legal representatives, directors and staff of these organizations, the women and youth working within the community on leadership programs and demonstrations.”
The bulletin explains that “The illegally armed groups are using terror and selective violence against the persons and organizations that assist with defensive actions for human rights and that they are especially targeting the leadership where they have been unsuccessful in subordinating their interests and goals because of their firm conviction to work for the social and economic vindication of their communities; for this reason, these people and organizations pose obstacles to the goals of the illegally armed groups who desire to preserve the illegal drug trafficking and other illegal activities.”
“These illegally armed groups aim at debilitating the social and community organizations in the identified communities, working their way up to the leadership and representatives in order to weaken the base organizational structure, and especially those that are most represented within which are found the organizations for displaced populations and facilitate in this way their positioning in the communities 1, 2 and 3 of the District of Cartagena, and the Municipalities of Turbaco and Arjona.”
“The leadership of the organizations for women’s defense and promoters of human rights in the municipalities mentioned in this Bulletin has been the object of threats and pressures from the illegally armed groups active in the area. The activities of the League of Displaced Women (LMD), defending and denouncing acts of gender based violence of this nature against the women as a consequence of the dynamics of the conflict, have been repeatedly cautioned in the Risk Reports and have been subjected to continued violations against the leaders and staff.”
“Despite the national and international charges (accusations) made by the League, just as with the repeated warnings from the System of Early Alerts from the Public Defender, they continue to be victimized by violations of their human rights.”
The notice describes as follows the risk situation at LMD:
“The League of Displaced Women—LMD, an organization formed by women (many of them young women, widows and mother-head of households, from different races and cultures, and who form part of the poorest communities in Bolívar), have been victims in this framework of armed Colombian conflict, of crimes such as forced displacement and other connected crimes.
These women find themselves exposed to a high level of risk, due to the elevated vulnerability caused by the economic and social realities. The activities, plans and projects which are before the League are related to the defense, promoting and spreading the rights of Women, and promoting actions that restore the right to justice to the women victims of forced displacement and other related crimes, particularly Gender Based Sex Crimes, VSBG, which occur frequently in the framework of the Colombia’s armed internal conflict; and continue to push for enforcement of Decrees–Autos—200, 092, and 237 as they relate to the Sentencing T-025 of the Constitutional Court. The League works to promote fundamental Human Rights with special focus on gender and race; they lead projects that attempt to restore historic dignity, justice and recovery for their associates, and take the judicial process for the accusations regarding crimes committed in the area of forced displacement against the women in their organization, and take them through to the National and International level.
In this context, legal protest and formal complaints made to competent authorities about the violations of human rights to which the women organized in the league and their families have been subjected, they are in conflict with those who protect the illegally armed bands; the women have therefore been subjected to violent acts such as threats, kidnappings, selective murders, sexual violations, injuries, theft, and threats of destruction of personal property among others. During the present year, on various occasions, this intimidation has included being followed by men on high velocity motorcycles who enter uninvited into the places where these women conduct their collective activities, with the objective of watching and listening, limiting the rights to free association and freedom of expression of the women of the League.
Some of the acts which give examples of the violations of the fundamental rights of the women who participate in the League are described as follows:
On the 14th of September, 2008, three young men, with short military haircuts came from Barrio Bonanza to the community of El Talon, where the City of Women is located, they dropped a ski mask in front of the residence of one of the legal representatives of the League of Women Organization (LMD)
On the 12th of September, 2008 between 9:30 and 10:30 at night, six young men, between 20 and 30 years of age, were seen in one of the passages of the park directly in front of the community, they were strangers to the neighborhood, and appeared to be armed.
On the 13th of October, 2008 while a reunion took place in the reconstructed Community Center “El Corazon de las Mujeres”(The Heart of the Women) of the City of Women, located at the border of El Talon of the Municipality of Turbaco, assisting both communities, an unknown person arrived causing tension and fear among the women.
On the 21st of October, 2008 the leader of the League of Displaced Women, Denis Del Carmen Contreras Hernandez, reported her concerns regarding the forced displacement and subsequent disappearance of her brother Elkin Contreras Hernandez before the office ‘Fiscal 96 Especializado ruling 5050 and again on the 4th of November, 2008. Denis Del Carmen Contretras was threatened by a person who arrived at her residence in the City of Women, to inform her that her brother Elkin Contreras Hernandez had been murdered by the bodyguards of Cordoba y Uraba and was buried in a place name Loma de Bohorques, in Guaimaral (District of the Magistrate Magangue Bolivar) and San Pedro (Sucre), the person made it clear that he was very pleased to know where her residence was located, while banging threateningly on the walls of the home which Mrs. Contreras Hernandez shares with members of her family. As he exited the residence he commented to someone standing near by: “I leave her with fear.”
The acts mentioned here demonstrate that despite the national and international protests submitted by the League, and the continued warnings and recommendations on the part of the System of Early Alerts from the Office of the Public Defender, human rights continue to be violated.
During the last two years, the displaced population and the organizations located in the District of Cartagena have been targeted with threats and punishable acts such as murder and recruitment. The advance warning by the SAT, has given evidence that, despite the formal complaints, the risk will continue and in many cases is underestimated by the competent authorities, which increases the risk to these exposed communities. If the situation continues to be ignored it is foreseeable that there may be forced displacement of the leaders of the organization as well as the civic leaders and the populations that they represent.”
Lastly, the Bulletin suggests that the Early Alert instruct the trusted authorities that they adopt measures necessary to mitigate, dissuade or neutralize the current risk, and consequently submits, among others, the following recommendations:
To the Mayor of Cartagena and Turbaco, and the Office of the Governor Bolivar and the Public Forces, that they guarantee to safeguard the human rights and exercise of activities of the women of the organization of the League of Displaced Women, directors, staff, families and all others involved in their plans and projects in the municipalities of Cartagena, Turbaco y Arjona.
To the Department of Interior and Justice, the Office of the Governor Bolivar, the Municipal Mayor of Turbaco, that they work together to protect the neighborhoods of the City of Women in which the residents belong to the League of Displaced Women of Bolivar, and bring an end to the harassment and threats to the organization and the work within the community pertaining to the organization of women.
To the Department of Interior and Justice, Program for Protection, that they implement gender protection elements, especially in the vulnerable situations in which they find themselves as the leaders of the League of Displaced Women of Bolivar, their families, community projects and programs, such as the City of Women, in the Municipality of Turbaco.
Press Release No. 001, 1/20/2009