COLOMBIA LAWYER DANGER
02 Aug, 2011
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for lawyers, says Law Society
The Law Society of England & Wales is urging action by the Colombian authorities as the murder of lawyers rises because killers act with impunity in the South American country.
The Law Society Council has passed a resolution calling for the Colombian Government to act on the murders. A recent report published in the UK by the Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers Group showed that 12 prosecutors and 334 lawyers were murdered during the six years between 2003 and 2009 in Columbia.
The report shows that in one city a lawyer was shot dead in the presence of his wife. Sixteen months later she had still not been interviewed about the crime she had witnessed.
Law Society President John Wotton says: “The Law Society Council has passed a resolution calling upon the Colombian authorities to ensure effective protection for human rights lawyers, end impunity for the perpetrators of attacks on human rights defenders and defend publicly the right of lawyers to practise their profession in safety without threat of attack or assassination.”
“Colombia is fast becoming the lawyer murder capital of the world. It is paramount that lawyers are free to defend human rights, and the right of judges and lawyers to practise their profession without fear of persecution or murder. The Colombian Government must act to prevent further bloodshed.”
Professor Sara Chandler, chair of Colombian Caravana UK Lawyers’ Group and Law Society Council Member, says: “During our visit to Colombia I was extremely moved by the testimonies I was given by lawyers and victims of the violence against human rights defenders. It is vital that the international legal community maintains vigilance about the situation and expresses its concerns when lawyers are threatened, attacked or killed.”
Tony Fisher, chair of the Law Society Human Rights Committee, says: “The rule of law and access to justice are the basic cornerstones of any civilised society. As defenders of those rights lawyers must be able to do so without fear of murder. Overseas investment to Colombia is vital to its economy, but its standing on the world stage could easily become tarnished by its worsening track record in human rights. The Colombian government must crack down on these atrocities.”
57 lawyers from 15 different countries travelled to Colombia for a five-day visit last August to gauge the severity of the situation. The largest contingent, 17 in all, came from the UK. What they found is documented in the Colombian Caravana report at http://www.colombiancaravana.org.uk/reports/Caravana2010FinalReportENGLISH.pdf