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Advocatencollectief José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR) – L4L letter

Colombia

L4L has received reports indicating that lawyers of the Colombian lawyers collective José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR) were illegally bugged and followed between 6–18 February 2015.

This happened while the lawyers were executing their professional activities. The number of incidents in the past month and the direct connection with the work of CAJAR for victims of human rights violations by the army worries L4L. The incidents include stigmatizing statements about CAJAR by former President Uribe on Twitter. In his messages on twitter on 23 January 2015, he called CAJAR a ‘FARC collective’. Together with Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, L4L called on the Colombian authorities to guarantee that the lawyers from CAJAR can do their work without experiencing any form of intimidation.

On 17 February 2015 Reinaldo Villabo was monitored and observed by an agent of the intelligence unit of the National Police (SEJIN) during a meeting in a cafeteria in Neiva. He was discussing the case of an alleged murder by soldiers with his clients and a journalist. The agent indicated that the SEJIN was called by the guards of the cafeteria because of safety concerns. These guards, however, denied this.

On February 12, 2015, the President of CAJAR, Luis Guillermo Pérez Casas, had a meeting with relatives of the victims of the massacre of Mapiripan in Villavicencio. During this meeting, a van with tinted windows parked in front of the meeting place. After the meeting a motorcycle drove by with a passenger that exchanged signals with an unknown individual that was in the room during the meeting.

Another incident occurred during a hearing in a trial against a sergeant of the intelligence unit of the army in connection to the murder of trade union leader Jorge Darío Hoyos Franco. During this hearing, lawyer Soraya Gutiérrez of CAJAR was threatened by a witness.

These forms of intimidation are even more worrying in light of the ongoing stigmatization of the work of CAJAR, for instance by former President Uribe. On 23 January 2015 he wrote on Twitter that CAJAR  is insisting the extradition of one of the suspects in the Chuzadas (Maria del Pilar Hurtado) scandal, in benefit of FARC. This former official of the Colombian Security Unit is currently in Panama. According to Uribe this involvement of the ‘FARC-collective’, as he calls CAJAR, indicates that there is political pressure on the trial.

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