Human Rights Lawyer Under Threat
Jorge Molano, who serves as the lawyer representing victims of massacres such as the 2005 Peace Community massacre, works tirelessly to end the impunity of human rights abuses by the Colombian army. He has had to take his children out of the country due to fears for their safety, and in recent days he and his partner have been the subject of vigilance by suspicious characters. FOR is concerned for the safety of Molano and his family, as well as for the implications that such threats have for the important work Molano does to end impunity in Colombia. Please take action by writing to Colombian officials urging them to protect Jorge and his family! Letter writing instructions here
The following is the initial alert issued by several Colombian NGOs about threats against Jorge
URGENT ACTION: GRAVE SECURITY CONCERNS FOR THE SAFETY OF LAWYER JORGE ELIECER MOLANO AND HIS FAMILY
The organizations listed below urgently contact inter-governmental human rights organizations, international organizations and the general public in order to inform about the security situation of the human rights lawyer JORGE ELIECER MOLANO RODRIGUEZ, who during the last few days has experienced increased persecution, including the harassment of his family.
Attorney Molano Rodriguez represents the family members of the victims of the Palace of Justice massacre; the February 21st, 2005 massacre against the Peace Community of San José de Apartado; espionage by the Administrative Security Department (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad – DAS) of organizations, human rights defenders and magistrates; the extrajudicial executions of Jhonny Silva Arangueren and Alejandro Uribe Chacón; Operation Dragón; false positives in San José del Guaviare, Sur de Bolívar and Sur del Cesar; and the legal proceedings against Fernando Londoño Hoyos, Germán Vargas Lleras and Francisco Santos Calderón. The following individuals, among others, are implicated in these cases:
General: Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales, Iván Ramírez Quintero, Héctor Jaime Fandiño, Carlos Alberto Ospina Ovalle, Julio Charry Solano and Rito Alejo del Rio.
Coronels: Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega, Edilberto Sánchez Rubiano, Fernando Blanco, Orlando Espinosa Beltrán, Néstor Iván Duque, Julián Villate Leal, Germán Huertas.
The lawyer Molano Rodriguez also serves as a judicial advisor to the Corporación Sembrar, Asociación Nomadesc, Corporación Jurídica Utopía y Fedeagromisbol.
1. Today, December 1, 2009, Molano Rodriguez’s bodyguards were informed that during the past week, on three occasions, individuals dressed as civilians arrived at the reception desk of the building where Molano lives, asking to be let in to his apartment.
These individuals refused to identify themselves, and when the guard attempted to call the apartment to verify the presence of Molano Rodriguez the visitors left hurriedly, indicating that they would call him later.
2. The cellular telephone of Molano Rodriguez has been tapped since 2004, as part of the espionage against human rights defenders, high court magistrates, and political leaders carried out by the DAS.
During the last month interference in Molano Rodriguez’ telephone communications has been notable, including strange noises and the recurring cut-off of calls.
3. In previous months the Ministry of the Interior and the DAS have been informed of the surveillance being carried out at Molano Rodriquez’s office by individuals dressed as civilians who keep watch on his movements
4. In response to Molano Rodriguez’s involvement in the hearings in the cases against various officials of the Colombian Army for the forced disappearances of 11 people in the events of the Palace of Justice on the 6th and 7th of November, 1985, many comments have been published on mass media websites. The comments against Molano Rodriguez include, “I refer exclusively to the vulgar and shameless eduardo( jorge molano) in order to express my disgust, my repugnance. He smells like a terrorist, like unpatriotic person, like the money of the poor kidnapped people, which his bosses in the mountains surely pay him every two weeks [translator’s note: this is an inference of payment from the guerrilla]. If he has a family, they must walk with their heads lowered. I bet you don’t even know what honor is.”
In addition to this, on various webpages the following text appears: “We want to state that if something happens to one of us or to our families, we take responsibility for the judge and her advisor the lawyer Jorge Molano, that our blood falls on those people,” written by someone identified as Alberto Acosta, who it seems ia a retired official of the Colombian Army.
5. Molano Rodriguez’ partner has been the object during the last several months of repeated and visible surveillance in the center and North of Bogota. On the 7th of September around 11am as she left a meeting in the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyer’s Collective and began to walk north down 7th Avenue, she noted that a tall, robust man with light-brown short hair and sharp features dressed in a white shirt with blue strips and jeans began to follow her. Noting that she was being tracked, she decided to enter a shop full of people where she was able to hide amongst all the people. The man entered and looked for her, but upon not seeing her left by another door.
The 14th of September around 7pm, she was once again the object of following by a burly man who wore black pants, a light-colored jacket, black shoes, was dark-skinned, had black hair, a round face and a large nose. The man visibly followed her for several blocks.
REUESTS OF THE COLOMBIAN STATE
We call on the Colombian to adopt, in an agreed upon manner, efficacious and immediate measures for real and effective protection of the lawyer and human rights defender JORGE ELIECER MOLANO RODRIGUEZ and his family that allow him to fully carry out his work.
We call on the legal and control institutions to carry out the necessary investigations in order to determine the persons responsible for these acts of persecution and harassment described in this urgent action, and that they be punished in an exemplary manner.
Corporación Jurídica Utopía
Red de Hermandad – Colombia
Campaña Prohibido Olvidar
Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos
Proceso de Comunidades Negras
Sintraunicol – Valle
Please send letters to the following officials. You can write in English or Spanish; tell them that you are concerned for the safety of Jorge Molano and that you request urgent and thorough action to protect him and his family so that he can continue to carry out his courageous and important work.
ALVARO URIBE VELEZ
Presidente de la República
Carrera 8 No. 7 -26 Palacio de Nariño Bogotá
Vicepresidente de la República
Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.
FABIO VALENCIA COSSIO
Ministro del Interior y de Justicia
Avenida El dorado con carrera 52 CAN Bogotá D.C.