N° 117/10




Washington, November 30, 2010 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Óscar Maussa, a Colombian campesino leader and beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on September 1, 2006.


The available information indicates that Óscar Maussa and other members of the Blanquicet Agricultural Workers’ Cooperative (COOTRAGROBLAN) were asserting their rights over lands from which they had been forcibly ejected by paramilitary groups between 1996 and 1998. It also indicates that in 2005, the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Chigorodó ordered the restitution of the “La Esperanza” farm to its COOTRAGROBLAN owners, but that the families did not return due to threats from the paramilitaries. In 2006, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of four families from COOTRAGROBLAN, including the Maussa family, after they were threatened by the paramilitaries who seized their lands for having taken judicial action to recover their property. The information received by the IACHR indicates that in 2007, Óscar Maussa received new death threats and as a result had had to move again. According to publically available information, on November 24, 2010, Óscar Maussa’s body was found with the hands tied and showing signs of violence.


The Inter-American Commission views as extremely serious the fact that the State of Colombia had not adopted the necessary measures to protect the life and integrity of Óscar Maussa, considering the precautionary measures in effect that had been granted by the IACHR and the situation of threats and harassment that he and the other COTRAGROBLAN families had been suffering. The IACHR calls to mind that it is the State’s obligation to take the initiative to investigate this crime and to punish those responsible. The IACHR also calls on the State to immediately adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and security of the other beneficiaries of these measures and of all those displaced from the “La Esperanza” farm who face a situation of risk due to their struggle for restitution of their property.


The Commission likewise stresses the need to respect the life and integrity of all those who belong to the land recovery movement in Colombia.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


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