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Dear <<First Name>>

ABColombia were pleased to welcome to London a delegation from the peace commission of the Colombian Congress who participated in a Peace Forum for the Colombian diaspora on Sunday 19 May.
The Government of Colombia and the guerrilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are engaged in peace talks that started in Havana in October 2012. The goal is to put an end to almost five decades of armed conflict that has caused the death of over 70,000 people and resulted in Colombia having the highest internally displaced population in the world at over 5 million people. Both sides share the understanding that civil society participation is essential for the success of the peace talks. As a result, the Commission for Peace of the Colombian Congress has organised several 2 day Peace Forums across Colombia for the civil population to discuss their proposals for the themes currently on the negotiating table. This process is happening with technical support from the United Nations.
Whilst the peace dialogues continue there has been no multilateral cease fire and as a result the civilian population continue to suffer the brunt of the conflict. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), mass displacements increased by 59% in the first three months of this year - 10,694 people were forcibly displaced in these large events (this number does not include individual displacements). Continuing combats between non-state actors and security forces is restricting the mobility of civilian population and access to humanitarian assistance. Mass displacement and confinement are just two of the consequences of the armed conflict impacting the civilian population.
ABColombia is also seeing escalating threats and attacks against community and land restitution leaders. For example, in Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó, death threats have been made against community members, allegedly by paramilitary groups operating in the Chocó region. Land restitution leader Mary Hernández in the neighbouring community of Bijao Onofre in the community territories of Pedeguita y Mancilla has also received death threats.
In addition, an attempt to take the life of land restitution leader Guillermo Diaz has recently be reported, and members of the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace who accompany these communities continue to be threatened and under surveillance, in particular Father Alberto Franco, Danilo Rueda and Abilio Peña.
A government commission carrying out land restitution work in Jiguamiandó was attacked by the FARC guerrilla last month and two policemen were killed. This is another backward step for land being returned to communities in the region. Read the full article here.
In November 2012, an International Verification Mission visited communities in Jiguamiandó and Curvaradó. The Mission marked the 15th anniversary of ‘Operation Genesis’, a joint military paramilitary operation that resulted in the forced displacement of afro-Colombian communities and human rights violations. The Mission received evidence related to the ongoing human rights violations in the region as well as an environmental crisis. Find out more and read the full report here.
ABColombia welcomes the news that at a meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers in London in April 2013 delegates adopted a declaration on preventing sexual violence in conflict. The declaration re-iterates that no amnesties should be given for crimes of sexual violence in conflict and stresses the need to involve women in peace talks. The situation for women remains critical in Colombia, as the death of Angelica Bello in February this year shows. Learn more here.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has published its 2012 report on Human Rights and Democracy. Colombia is still recognised as a country of concern; the report recognises the ongoing conflict, the dangerous situation for human rights defenders and includes a section on women’s rights. Whilst the printed report states that 37 human rights defenders were killed in 2012, compared with 49 in 2011, in fact the correct figure stands at 69 deaths in 2012. Whist this error has been amended in the online version, it is important to reiterate that the situation for human rights defenders in Colombia is deteriorating. According to the latest report from the ‘We are Defenders’ (Somos Defensores) Programme, in 2012 there were 357 attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia, up from 239 attacks in 2011 and 174 attacks in 2010. Read a full summary of the FCO report here.
New EU transparency requirements were agreed for the extractive industry in April. This means that citizens around the world are better able to hold their governments accountable for the exploitation of their country’s natural resources. ABColombia welcomes this news for Colombia: in 2009 the Colombian government lost 53 percent of its possible income through tax exemptions to oil, gas and mineral multinational corporations. Read more here.
Following the launch of ABColombia’s report on mining in Colombia (download the report in English and Spanish), videos of all talks and discussions from ABColombia’s conference on mining in November 2012 ‘Mining in Colombia and Latin America: will the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights Improve Accountability?’ are now available online for those who were unable to attend.
The Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Colombia by the United Nations Human Rights Council took place this April in Geneva. Learn more and read ABColombia’s report on the human rights situation in Colombia here.

You can read more on all these stories and ABColombia's work on our website.
Kind regards,
Louise Winstanley
Programme and Advocacy Manager, ABColombia

A large mining truck transports coal at the El Cerrejón mine. Photo: CCALCP

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Latest report on large-scale mining in Colombia:

Giving It Away: The Consequences of an Unsustainable Mining Policy in Colombia

English and Spanish

Photos from the Bogota launch of report are online.
Videos from the London launch of report are online.

The Current Panorama: Victims and Land Restitution Law 1448
English and Spanish

Women Human Rights Defenders and the Struggle for Justice in Colombia
English and Spanish

Colombia: do human rights policy changes stand up to scrutiny?
English and Spanish

Returning Land to Colombia's Victims

Fit for Purpose: how to make UK policy on Colombia more effective 
English and Spanish

More publications can be found on our website



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