Human rights defender

Pedro

Shelter CityHaarlemThemeHuman Rights DefendersCountryColombia

Pedro is a human rights defender from Colombia who works on issues of drug crop production, poverty and development. He is currently the Director an NGO which has led research and proposals on sustainable rural development, including voluntary substitution and human rights of communities. Pedro has accompanied peasant, indigenous and afro-descendant populations in the regions where prohibited plants are cultivated, and has denounced the diverse and continuous human rights violations that are generated by the action of the State, paramilitary groups and other illegal armed organizations in the rural areas of the country. In addition, Pedro also is a columnist for a variety of news publications in Colombia.

About Pedro

Human rights violations in Colombia

The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reached an agreement in 2016 to conclude their 52-year armed conflict. Symbolically this agreement is significant however Human Rights Watch has commented that its justice component is weak as murderers of human rights defenders and indigenous peoples are rarely held accountable [1].  Moreover, Colombia has seen large increases in the amount of coca being cultivated according to the UN and United States government in 2017 [2].   International law requires governments to prevent all cultivation of these crops not linked to medical and scientific use, however coca leaf production is the only means of income for some rural populations. Efforts to replace cultivation with other activities have been poor, and the current zero tolerance approach threatens small-holder farmers as they are pursued by police and military forces [3].

[1] https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2018/country-chapters/colombia

[2] https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/events/drug-crop-production-poverty-and-development

[3] ibid

Threats and harassment

Pedro has faced threats directly due to his work. His name was placed on the blacklist in the Guaviare region by paramilitary groups and he suffered attacks by guerrilla groups in 2009. He is constantly stigmatized for his work, to the point where he had to abandon his home on two separate occasions. Additionally the murder of social leaders and human rights defenders is increasing in the Cauca, Antioquia and Catatumbo regions, all sites where Pedro works with rural communities.