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On 12 March 2012, it was announced that a life threatening situation exists for José Humberto Torres, lawyer and human rights defender in Colombia. Through various sources it has become known that different (paramilitary) groups, have gathered a sum amounting to USD 120,000 to serve as a reward for an attack on José Humberto Torres.
Mr Torres is a recognized human rights lawyer, working in the north of Colombia. As a lawyer, he has acted in legal proceedings including relating to attacks on human rights activists and trade union leaders in the north of Colombia.
Presumably the death threats are related to the fact that José Humberto Torres is currently spokesman for the National Platform for Human Rights in Colombia and his involvement in legal cases against state officials. Torres was involved in the lawsuit against former Director of Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), Jorge Noguera, for his alleged involvement in the murder of human rights activist Alfredo Correa de Andreis. In addition, he was involved in proceedings against paramilitary leaders and cases related to extra-judicial killings involving members of the Fuerza Pública (Public Force). Recently, Torres called for a criminal investigation to be launched into links between members of Congress and paramilitary groups.
Torres has been subjected to threats in the past. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the provision of protection measures in favor of the human rights defender. Nevertheless the security program subsequently put in place by the Ministry of Interior, it is believed, has been inadequate to guarantee his protection.
L4L organized a letter writing campaign order to express concerns with these threats and in order to call for the authorities to carry out adequate protective measures. To participate, click here.