Webinar on Tuesday: Colombian Military Espionage—An Attack on Post-Conflict Reformers and the Free Press

Cross-posted from WOLA’s website. RSVP for the online event there.

Join the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WFP), the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), the International Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights, the Colombia Human Rights Committee, the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and Amnesty International USA for an online forum.

On May 1, 2020, the Colombian weekly news magazine Semana revealed that Colombian military intelligence units carried out illicit surveillance on more than 130 individuals between February and December 2019.  Among those targeted were human rights defenders, Colombian and international journalists, politicians, labor leaders, and members of the military. Several were targeted for reporting, documenting, or representing families of victims of extrajudicial killings, and for bringing to light other grave abuses.

This illegal espionage is not a new phenomenon. In 2011, Colombia’s former intelligence agency, the Administrative Security Directorate (DAS), was dismantled after revelations in 2009 that it was illegally wiretapping and monitoring the activities of civil society leaders, judges, and politicians. The recent revelations by Semana raise the question: why is this a recurring problem in Colombia, and what needs to happen to secure accountability and at last bring about much-needed reforms to Colombian army intelligence and military doctrine?  

Journalists, human rights defenders, and military whistleblowers are carrying out crucial work to advance peace and uphold democratic practices amid a fragile security situation in post-conflict Colombia. When units in the military criminalize this work, it undermines efforts to build a more peaceful, democratic Colombia. What should be done to guarantee the end to illicit surveillance of social leaders? What role can the U.S. government play in achieving accountability, given its status as Colombia’s top military donor and trainer? How can the Organization of American States and the United Nations guarantee protection, justice, and non-repetition of such crimes? What are the implications of these revelations for Colombia’s 2016 peace accord?

To help answer these questions, we invite you to join us for a webinar with individuals targeted by this illegal surveillance and with Colombia human rights experts.

Event Details:

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. GMT-4 (Washington, D.C.)

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. GMT-5 (Bogotá, Colombia)

*RSVP Required*

Featuring:

Danilo Rueda

Inter-Ecclesial Commission for Justice and Peace

WOLA Human Rights Award Winner 2015

César Jerez

Land rights leader

Jomary Ortegón

José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCA-JAR)

Iván Cepeda

Senator, Senate of the Republic of Colombia

John Otis

Colombia-based journalist for NPR and WSJ

Nicolas Bedoya

Photojournalist, VELA Collective

Commentaries by:

Adam Isacson

Director for Defense Oversight, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Viviana Kristicevic

Executive Director, Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Lisa Haugaard

Executive Director, Latin America Working Group (LAWG)

Moderated by:

Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli

Director for the Andes, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Simultaneous interpretation into English and Spanish will be available.

Instructions for webinar access will be emailed to registered participants.

Tags: Civil-Military Relations, Military and Human Rights, Press Freedom

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