64 Members of Congress send Letter to Secretary of State Rice Expressing Serious Concern Over Attacks and Threats Against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia

On December 14, 2006 64 Members of the United States Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over concerns of increasing attacks and threats against human rights defenders.

The bipartisan letter was circulated by Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA). The letter is addressed to the U.S. State Department, asking Secretary Rice and the U.S. Embassy to pressure the Colombian government on this issue. The Colombian government should investigate and prosecute threats and attacks against defenders, make public statements regarding the legitimacy of human rights work, and improve protection measures for human rights defenders and other leaders at risk.

This year has seen a surge in death threats against defenders of human rights in Colombia. Union representatives, religious leaders, journalists, Afro-Colombian and Indigenous community leaders, and members of national and local human rights groups have received threats for their work. Moreover, a number have been assassinated or disappeared in the past year.

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