IACHR CONCERNS REGARDING INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES IN COLOMBIA
Washington, D.C., February 26, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about intelligence activities that, according to information that is publicly known, were carried out by the Administrative Security Department (DAS) of the Republic of Colombia with respect to individuals associated with the legislative and judicial branches, the defense of human rights, and journalism, among other areas.
The IACHR requested information from the State on intelligence operations against human rights defenders, journalists, and members of the legislative and judicial branches whose situation of risk had prompted the Inter-American Commission to grant precautionary measures and apply other mechanisms.
The IACHR urges the authorities to investigate the facts and determine responsibilities, and to impose the appropriate sanctions.
With regard to intelligence operations against human rights defenders, in its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the IACHR stated: “Another form of arbitrary meddling is illegally intercepting correspondence and the telephone and electronic communications of human rights defenders. The illegal collection of such information tends to encumber the defenders’ work, while also increasing the risks faced by these persons and by the victims they defend or the communities they accompany.” In the report, the IACHR recommended to the States that they: “Refrain from engaging in any type of arbitrary or abusive meddling in the home or offices of the organizations of human rights defenders, or in their correspondence and telephone and electronic communications. Instruct the authorities affiliated with the state security agencies to respect these rights, and impose disciplinary and criminal sanctions on those who engage in such practices.”
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 the 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 act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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