PBI Colombia's 2018 Annual report

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PBI Colombia Annual report, May 2019

Annual Report 2018



Who are we?




2018: between hope and dispears


Protective Accompaniment


Lobby and advocacy


Publication and distribution


Psychosocial Support


When Peace began to move forward


Helping the international community to see the humanitarian crisis faced by Defenders in Colombia


"I am German Graciano"


Self-Care as a Political Project


Human Resources Report


Financial Report


Funding Agencies of PBI Colombia


Who are we?


eace Brigades International is an international non-governmental organisation, recognised by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia. It is a non-partisan and independent organisation, and has been carrying out accompaniment and observation work in the country since 1994. Our mission is to protect spaces for human rights defenders, who suffer aggression because of their work promoting and defending human rights and social justice. PBI works solely at the request of Colombian organisations, and does not aim to take over from local initiatives, but instead aims to support them by using a comprehensive protection model, which includes: - Physical accompaniment and international observation in the field. - Political advocacy inside and outside of Colombia. - Public information and awareness-raising on the human rights situation. - Workshops on strengthening and rebuilding the social fabric in Colombia. PBI Colombia’s mandate is to prevent and protect with a differential and intersectional approach, paying special attention to the situation of vulnerable groups, including women defenders and small-scale farming, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities that resist non-violently in their territories. To do this, PBI carries out differentiated analyses on the risks faced by these groups in order to develop specific protection mechanisms adapted to their needs.


Areas of Work


Where do we work?




PBI significantly increased its activities in 2018 in response to the alarming deterioration in the security situation of human rights defenders. In 2018, 20 volunteers carried out 264 accompaniments and observation missions adding up to an equivalent of 606 days, which represents an increase of 19% in relation to the previous year. 12% of the total accompaniments were made in response to emergency situations. In addition, PBI held 330 meetings and visits to the offices of accompanied organisations, 19% more than in 2017. Due to the high level of requests, PBI Colombia strengthened its working area known as Support for the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric, facilitating 35 workshops for self-care and self-protection in 2018, which represents 20% more than were held during the previous year. Some 786 people participated in these workshops, 78% of whom were women.



PBI raised awareness of its work and the risk situation for accompanied organisations and communities via extensive political advocacy work in a total of 275 meetings with the international community and Colombian authorities, including: • 76 meetings with international organisations both within and outside of Colombia. • 58 meetings with the Diplomatic Corps and multilateral bodies in Colombia. • 70 dialogue meetings with Colombian civil and military authorities. • 71 meetings with governmental and multilateral institutions in Europe and the USA. PBI organised 7 international speaking tours for human rights defenders in Europe and the USA, while, at the national level, the organisation facilitated 10 meetings and visits of the Diplomatic Corps and international agencies to Colombian regions and in the capital city, opening up space for exchanges between the international community and accompanied organisations and communities. In addition to its bilateral advocacy work, PBI raised awareness on the human rights situation in Colombia with the general public on social media and on its website (www.pbicolombia.org) which received more than 147,000 visits in 2018, an increase of 37,000 in one year. The Smugmug platform, which hosts our photographs and photo stories, received 111,000 visits, and the videos on our YouTube channel registered 214,500 views. 10


2018: Between Hope and Despairs


wo years after the signature of the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerrilla, a long journey has been undertaken to implement the agreed upon points. 2018 will be remembered as the year when the FARC guerrilla, today a political party, Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, participated for the first time in national elections, definitively leavings its weapons behind to embark on their political project. However, the Peace Agreement’s implementation is progressing slowly. Some points have advanced significantly, such as point 6 on the “Implementation, Verification, and Referendum Mechanisms,” with a full implementation of 52% of the measures, and point 3 on the “Termination of the Conflict” with 39% of legislative measures implemented. The first point, “Comprehensive Rural Reform” is underway, however significant results have yet to be seen, in addition to point 4 on the “Solution to the Illicit Drug Problem” which continues to face obstacles and controversies, including the National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Use Crops’ (PNIS) lack of implementation and a return to forced eradication.1 In addition, in 2018 the murder of 155 social leaders and defenders was registered, which equals a 46.2% increase compared to the previous year.3 This lack of guarantees to exercise the defense of human rights in Colombia continues to threaten stable and lasting peace in the country. There are debates regarding the statistics on assassinated defenders,3 however, as Alberto Brunori stated,4 effective results to stop these attacks have yet to be demonstrated.5 Certain regions like Bajo Cauca, Catatumbo, Chocó, and Nariño have seen armed confrontations return to their regions, generating forced displacements and confinement. According to CODHES, 2018 was the year with the highest number of forced displacements since 2010,6 and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that between January and November 2018, 30,500 individuals have been forcibly displaced from their territories.7 The Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, which continues to provide ongoing and broad monitoring of the situation in the regions, issued 80 early alerts during the year. This was the highest number of alerts issued in one year, 52 were issued by the entity in 2017.8 The office also had to confront multiple challenges regarding its own safety due to threats received by three of its employees (two in Urabá and one in Casanare).9 The territories abandoned by the FARC are currently being disputed by other illegal armed groups, successors of the paramilitaries or FARC dissidents, among others, who have regrouped and/or established themselves in different territories, generating an open armed conflict and social and territorial control that impacts the civilian population’s life and safety. A recent International Committee of the Red Cross publication highlights the existence of five armed conflicts in Colombia.10 This alarming situation generated international concern and led to visits, at the end of the year, from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of defenders, Michel Forst, to carry out evaluation missions and to elaborate recommendations for the Colombian Government. This year, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) began operating and initiated its first hearings and investigations on the “most serious and representative [incidents] within the armed conflict”11 which are: kidnappings carried out by the FARC-EP, crimes committed in Nariño, extrajudicial executions, and the armed conflict and land grabbing in Urabá, and a fifth case on the violence that occurred in North Cauca. One of the first hearings looked at cases of extrajudicial executions that took place under the command of retired General Mario Montoya and his role in the Operation Orión. This process has generated expectations among 12

the victims, who hope to learn the full truth about these atrocious incidents,12 but they also face disappointment due to the complexity of the cases and procedures, in addition to a lack of will to tell the truth, which has been seen from those implicated in the case.13 Ivån Duque Mårquez was elected as Colombia’s new President in June. He took office on 7 August. The new government has received several observations due to an appointment of controversial individuals to his team, such as Finance Minister Alberto Carrasquilla, who has been denounced for alleged corruption in 2015,14 and businessman Guillermo Boteromaker, Minister of Defense, who in the first month of his mandate declared that social protests were financed by mafias in Colombia.15


On 23 August, President Duque along with several Ministers, the Inspector General, and the National Human Rights Ombudsman signed a Pact for Life in the city of Apartadó, with the aim to taking effective measures and implementing a public policy for the prevention and protection in attacks against defenders and social leaders. This Pact resulted in the creation of a Timely Action Plan for the Prevention and Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Social and Community Leaders, and Journalists.16 The plan lays out several focus areas, action strategies, and inter-institutional coordination to respond to the serious situation currently faced by human rights defenders in Colombia. However, to date, advances have yet to be shown in its implementation nor have effective results been seen. The alarming situation generated international concern and led to visits, at the end of the year, from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of defenders, Michel Forst, to carry out evaluation missions and to elaborate recommendations for the Colombian Government. The Fundación Ideas por la Paz published a report assessing the three first months of President Duque’s administration which registered 348 protests. This is equivalent to over three protests per day, where citizens expressed their displeasure regarding the country’s current situation, the murder of leaders, and a lack of implementation of the Peace Agreements, among others.17 Throughout the country the marches faced major repression from the Anti-Riot Police (ESMAD).18 Regarding peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla, there was a change in the negotiations site, from Quito to Havana, as Ecuador pulled out as a guarantor country after FARC dissidents murdered three Ecuadorian journalists in the border region between Colombia and Ecuador.19 The last negotiations cycle was in July 2018, but it was not possible to reach a bilateral ceasefire between both parties. At the beginning of his administration, President Duque imposed strict conditions to continue with the negotiations. The ELN did release some kidnapped individuals, but it did not agree to abandon criminal activities. At the same time, it implemented a unilateral ceasefire over the Christmas season.


However, after the attack against the General Santander Police Academy in Bogotá on 17 January 2019, which was claimed by the guerrilla, the Government announced the end of negotiations and requested the immediate capture of the guerrilla delegation in Havana.20 The request generated international tensions among the guarantor countries, due to a noncompliance of protocols established with the Santos government. It also generated major uncertainty regarding the armed conflict in Colombian during the coming year.

Notes 1 KROC Institute: State of Implementation of the Colombian Peace Agreement, Report Two, December 2016 – May 2018, August 2018 2 Público: Asesinados en Colombia 155 defensores de los Derechos Humanos en 2018, 23 April 2019 3 According to Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office, between 1 January 2016 and 30 November 2018, 423 social leaders and human rights defenders were assassinated; in an Indepaz report the murder of 226 defenders is documented between 1 January and 17 November 2018, El Tiempo: Van 226 líderessociales asesinados en el país en lo que va de año, 23 November 2018 4 Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia 5 El Espectador, Colombia 2020: “Medidas para proteger a líderes sociales no han dado resultado”: Alberto Brunori, 22 November 2018 6 CODHES: Se agrava situación humanitaria en Colombia, 20 September 2018 ; El Espectador: Los caminos del desplazamiento forzado, 2 August 2018 7 El Espectador: Más de 30.500 colombianos han sido desplazados en 2018, 28 December 2018 8 Verdad Abierta: Alertan sobre posible debilitamiento institucional de la Defensoría del Pueblo, 23 November 2018 9 Ibid. 10 ICRC Colombia: Colombia: Five armed conflicts. What’s happening?, 6 December 2018 11 El Espectador: Un año de la Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, 16 January 2018 12 CCAJAR: Las víctimas y la sociedad exigen que Montoya diga la verdad, Comunicado conjunto, 13 September 2018 13 CCAJAR: General Mario Montoya, las víctimas están esperando la verdad, 18 September 2018 ; CCAJAR: Exigimos respeto por el principio de centralidad de las víctimas, 18 October 2018 14 Caracol: Bonos Carrasquilla solo le sirvieron a 29 de 117 municipios, 12 September 2018 15 El Espectador: Protesta social, en la mira del Mindefensa, 14 September 2018 16 Ministerio de Interior: Plan de Acción Oportuna de Prevención y Protección (PAO), 2 November 2018 17 El Tiempo: En tres meses del actual gobierno van 348 protestas, 19 November 2018 18 El Espectador: Denuncian excesos por parte del Esmad en las manifestaciones en Bogotá, 15 November 2018 19 Semana: Fotografías confirmarían el asesinato de los periodistas ecuatorianos, 12 April 2018 20 El Espectador: Punto final a los diálogos con el Eln, 18 January 2019


Protective Accompaniment With organizations and communities promoting human rights in Colombia

PBI received 13 new requests for accompaniment in 2018, a reflection of the worsening violence against the human rights movement in Colombia this year. This alarming figure is highly unusual, as generally the organisation receives 1 or 2 such requests in one year. Thirteen organisations who saw that their security situation had deteriorated recently, contacted PBI in their search for allies to counteract this situation. In 2018, PBI Colombia offered protection to a total of 28 individuals, organisations and communities threatened because of their work in defence of human rights. This accompaniment contributed to the fact that they all maintained and in some instances increased their work, despite the challenging context. The following are some examples of PBI’s physical accompaniment work in 2018: The communities from the Naya River who are at risk of displacement stayed in their lands after the forced disappearance of 4 members of the community at the hands of an illegal armed group, and also managed to consolidate several areas of the Humanitarian Refuge for the protection of the civilian population, promoted by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz - CIJP), who also organised a number of humanitarian verification missions with accompaniment from PBI in April and May. CIJP also reported progress in land restitution processes in the Curbaradó river basin in the Bajo Atrato area of the Chocó department. With repeated visits to the area and with PBI’s accompaniment, the Commission documented the environmental damages suffered by the communities and promoted several eviction orders against bad faith settlers on community land.

The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó stopped small-scale farmers from outside of the community from taking over their land. PBI played an important role in accompanying the community during the 2 days and 2 nights that the attempted takeover took place, and in raising awareness with the Colombian authorities and international community of this land expropriation strategy, as reported by the community itself. PBI accompanied the celebration of the Neighbourhood Gathering for a Dignified Life (Mesa Comunal por la Vida Digna) in the village of La Esperanza (Bolivar department). This was a small-scale farming organisational initiative created and implemented by the ACVC in the Magdalena Medio region. During the gathering several components were discussed linked to territorial management, such as healthcare, education and agricultural projects. PBI’s accompaniment contributed to supporting this process and offered protection so that the participants could carry out their activities safely during the two days of discussion.



In the city of Barrancabermeja, CREDHOS offered legal advice and training on human rights to communities in a situation of displacement. Due to the delicate security situation in the different districts of the city, the organisation highlighted the importance of PBI’s accompaniment during these activities. CREDHOS director, Iván Madero, received direct threats in 2018 from an alleged neo-paramilitary in Barrancabermeja after the organisation published a report in which they reported the actions of illegal groups in the region. PBI accompanied the celebrated defender, and activated its support network to raise awareness of his risk situation.

The small-scale farming organisation CAHUCOPANA has been included in a plan being piloted by the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección - UNP) to create collective and differential protection measures, which the Colombian human rights movement has been demanding for many years. PBI accompanied CAHUCOPANA during the risk study which took place in the village of Plaza Nueva (Remedios municipality) in which UNP officials learned first-hand about the situation of the leaders in the region. The result of this pilot plan marks an important precedent for collective and differential protection in the country.


PBI accompanied NOMADESC on a verification mission into the humanitarian and risk situation of communities in the rivers of Buenaventura promoted by the Black Communities Process (Proceso de Comunidades Negras - PCN). Different United Nations agencies took part in the mission, as well as international organisations and Colombian authorities. During the mission, a number of Community Councils described violations to their rights and to the environment resulting from economic interests in the area.

situación humanitaria y de riesgo de las comunidades en los ríos de Buenaventura promovida pojudicialización que sufría, y PBI organizó en una gira de incidencia en Bogotá para visibilizar su lucha en favor del respeto del medioambiente y el derecho a la salud. Lilia Peña, lideresa y fundadora de ASORVIMM logró permanecer en su territorio y continuar liderando procesos de defensa de derechos humanos en la región del Magdalena Medio tras haber sido atacada por hombres armados en su casa. PBI Colombia reaccionó de inmediato con un acompañamiento permanente durante los 10 días siguientes, el cual brindó un apoyo emocional clave.

Celebrated environmental rights defender Yesid Blanco from the Magdalena Medio region was the victim of attacks in 2018, leading to his exile at the end of the year. Prior to this, CREDHOS had been representing him in legal proceedings against him, and PBI had organised a speaking tour in Bogotá to raise awareness of his work defending the environment and the right to healthcare. Lilia Peña, leader and founder of ASORVIMM was able to resist displacement and continue leading human rights processes in the Magdalena Medio region after she was attacked by armed men in her home. PBI Colombia reacted immediately with permanent accompaniment during the following 10 days, offering her key emotional support. CAHUCOPANA, with accompaniment from PBI, organised the commemoration of 30 years since the massacre in the town of Segovia in which 43 members of the Unión Patriótica political party, civic groups and trade union organisations were killed. The aim of this act of remembrance, which included the participation of representatives from the Special Peace Jurisdiction (JEP) and the Commission for the Discovery ofTruth (Comisión de Esclarecimiento de la Verdad), was to demand justice, dignify the victims and stop the stigmatisation which continues to revictimise them today.


The security situation of leaders from the Buenaventura Civic Strike worsened considerably in 2018. In January, one of its coordinators, Temístocles Machado, was killed and the rest of its members have been repeatedly threatened. NOMADESC accompanies this process for citizen participation and is part of the follow-up committee, significantly increasing the organisation’s risk. For this reason, PBI accompanied the organisation during its work in Buenaventura.

PBI accompanied journalist and human rights defender Claudia Julieta Duque who documented cases of human rights violations against populations affected by the Hidroituango hydroelectric project. Equally, PBI accompanied CCAJAR during the Mission for observation, verification and public debate on the conditions caused by Hidroituango in affected lands and


alternatives for a solution. During 2018 a number of social leaders had criminal proceedings brought against them, part of a strategy to fragment the social movement. A number of organisations accompanied by PBI have been affected by this pattern, fearing that their members will be arrested. PBI intensified its accompaniment to the organisations with the highest risk, raising awareness of their work and their international support. As part of this work, PBI accompanied demonstrations outside the Public Prosecutor’s Office and during the voluntary appearance of members of COSPACC before this institution to prevent arbitrary arrests.

"PBI’s accompaniment has been really useful for women and men who defend human rights in Colombia, and without a doubt has helped to raise awareness with the international community, but also within Colombian society and State institutions, on the need to protect defenders. For us, PBI’s accompaniment is without a doubt exemplary, it has helped us to save many lives, including our own. We are deeply grateful for that. That is why we believe that PBI’s work must be recognised and strengthened in these times of crisis. The international community must understand that PBI’s work is indispensible, and needs more resources than ever to expand its reach." Luis Guillermo Perez



Lobby and advocacy Raising the profile of human rights defenders' work with Colombian State authorities and the international community



he aim of PBI’s political advocacy work is to raise awareness of the risk situation faced by human rights defenders in Colombia, and their human rights work for which they are threatened. This advocacy work is undertaken at two levels, on one hand through constant bilateral communication with Colombian civil and military authorities to guarantee security conditions in the field and urge respect for human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL). On the other hand, PBI has built an extensive international support network both within and outside of Colombia, which enables its protection work as well as protecting and legitimising the work of accompanied people. This network is formed by international organisations, governmental institutions and multilateral bodies in Colombia, Europe and North America.

We have asked our accompanied organisations about the impact of this political work, and 73% tell us that the national authorities are more open to listening to them when they are accompanied by PBI. Moreover, 82% state that this work has given them some kind of opportunity for dialogue with the international community, and 90% maintain that PBI has played a key role in facilitating these exchanges. One important component to facilitate these opportunities for dialogue, are international speaking tours for defenders, promoted by PBI. This year, seven such tours were held in Europe and the USA, some of which occurred at emblematic moments such as the hearings in the trial against Santiago Uribe for his alleged responsibility in forming the “los 12 Apóstoles” paramilitary group, which acted in the north of Antioquia in the 90s, and the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Around this Anniversary PBI organised the first joint tour of people accompanied by all the PBI projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia. During the tour, the participants shared a common narrative about patterns and impacts that limit the defence of human rights throughout the world and the fundamental role of defenders in building peaceful societies with social justice. Carlos Fernández, a human rights defender and member of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission, represented Colombia on this speaking tour.


For the Universal Periodic Review, PBI coordinated with national and international organisations and coordination groups to prepare and present a shadow report. In addition, PBI organised a tour in Geneva with two Colombian defenders, Ana María Rodríguez from the Colombian Commission of Jurists (Comisión Colombiana de Juristas - CCJ) and Erika Gómez of the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (Comité Permanente para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos - CPDH), who met with authorities and civil society from five countries. In 2018, PBI has increased its political advocacy work in the USA with a new representative in post in Washington DC. One of the activities this year was a joint strategy with national and international organisations to promote a call to the State Department after the escalation of selective killings in Colombia. As a result, a letter was sent to the Colombian government, signed by 63 US congressmen, calling for the protection of defenders and social leaders. At the national level, PBI organised 10 meetings and visits by the Diplomatic Corps and international agencies to regions of Colombia and in the capital city, to open up space for exchanges with accompanied organisations and communities. As part of this, we would like to highlight PBI’s work to organise regional visits for Michel Forst, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders, during which he was able to learn first-hand about the situation faced by some of the processes accompanied by PBI, including the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. In conjunction with the Space for Peace Cooperation (Espacio de Cooperación para la Paz), a coordination group made up of 29 international organisations, PBI presented three reports produced by verification missions in the departments of Caquetá, Meta and Huila on the degree of implementation of the Peace Agreement in these regions, in relation to protection and prevention.


PBI nominated two accompanied people for the 2018 National Human Rights Award, promoted by Diakonia Sweden. As part of the process when they won this award, German Graciano (Peace Community) and María Ligia Chaverra (Camelias Humanitarian Zone, Curbaradó) met with high-level Colombian authorities and will participate in an advocacy tour of Europe in 2019. Equally, the lawyer Daniel Prado, a partner of the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission accompanied by PBI Colombia during the trial against Santiago Uribe, received the Henry Brooke Award granted by the Supreme Court of Justice of the United Kingdom, in recognition of his work in defence of human rights.

aria Ligia Chaverra, leader and land claimer in the M Curbaradó river bassin, won the National Human Rights Awards "aknowledge of a life time"

German Graciano Posso, legal representative of the Peace Community of San José of Apartadó, won the National Human Rights Awards, in the category "defender of the year"


In the month of November, and in response to aTutela (legal action for constitutional protection) brought against the Peace Community of San JosĂŠ de ApartadĂł by the XVII Brigade, PBI coordinated a letter in support of the community that was signed by 71 organisations and coordination groups from Europe and the United States. The letter was sent to the presidents of the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, with a copy to Colombian authorities and representatives of the UN and the Diplomatic Corps in Colombia. Both the Inter-American Commission and the Court showed their commitment to follow-up on this as a priority case. In addition, PBI coordinated two other letters addressed to both Inter-American bodies regarding the precarious security situation and the lack of prevention and protection measures for human rights defenders in Colombia, which contributed to a public statement by the IACHR on this issue.

Above: visit of the OHCHR at the Peace Community Below: visit of the Colombian Support Network (USA)



Publication and distribution To make visible the serious and continuig threats and attacks suffered by human rights defenders in Colombia



BI maintains constant communications activities via its website and social media, to raise awareness of the work of accompanied individuals and their risk situation due to their human rights work. To raise the profile of these human rights defenders and gain international support to legitimise their work, PBI publishes a series of different publications for the general public. The organisation’s blog is the most visited part of our website, and is a space for members of PBI to describe in depth the processes they accompany. In 2018, during the nomination of the community of human rights defenders for the Nobel Peace Prize and the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, PBI launched a campaign to raise awareness of the defenders accompanied by PBI Colombia and their risk situation. This included publications such as: “Doña Brígida and art for the memory of the Peace Community”; “Defending the rights of communities to recover the land that belongs to them”; “In the life of a defender there is a reason to go on, a reason to struggle and a reason to live: Irene Ramirez”; and “We have to keep going to defend health, education and life: Ninfa Cruz”, among others. In November, PBI International launched a campaign to raise awareness of the work of women human rights defenders, with the publication of a statement and several videos of accompanied women.



he most visited publication this year was the newsletter Land, culture and conflict, published in 2018. Thematic issues such as resistance to displacement, the participation of civil society and the search for truth, were also among the most consulted items. PBI also creates restricted documents for its international support network, both of a general and specific nature. The organisation published two general publications in 2018 with significant information on the human rights situation in Colombia and threats to accompanied organisations. Documents on specific issues also provided greater detail on particular cases, such as those written this year about each of the communities accompanied by PBI in the Urabรก region. Added to this is the regular and ad hoc distribution of analysis documents, briefings, recommendations and contributions to the different international mechanisms focused on the human rights situation in Colombia, including a document presented in Geneva during the Universal Periodic Review, and a document shared with the IACHR to contribute to its annual report.


Psychosocial Support


BI’s working area known as Support for the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric facilitates exchanges of tools for protection, digital security and psychosocial support, via collective workshops. In 2018, PBI facilitated 29 such spaces with organisations and communities threatened for their work defending human rights, thereby responding to 81% of requests received. PBI also held six workshops in 2018 for international organisations and cooperation agencies in Colombia. PBI has strengthened the mainstreaming of its gender approach across all levels of its protection work, especially in its facilitated psychosocial spaces. More specifically, PBI organised workshops with groups of women both nationally and regionally to look deeply at psychosocial support, self-care and mutual care for defenders and relatives of victims and disappeared persons. These workshops enable women to build trust, mitigate the risks they face for their work and build collective tools for the search for truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition.


For the second consecutive year, PBI participated in the Schools for Memory, an initiative that brings together groups of victims in order to collectivise processes for the reconstruction of memory, vital after the signing of agreements between the FARC-EP and the Colombian Government. In 2018, tools for psychosocial issues were prioritised with a group of people who will share the tools in the processes that they accompany, thereby multiplying their impact. A security protocol is also being developed for the collection of testimonies presented to the Truth Commission by organisations such as CCAJAR and MOVICE. We would like to highlight the psychosocial support offered by PBI during several emergencies in 2018. Firstly, the organisation accompanied a humanitarian mission after the forced disappearance of 4 leaders from the River Naya Community Council and as an exceptional measure PBI offered individual psychosocial support to members of the Council’s board, as well as to family members of the disappeared persons. PBI also began a process with the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó following the murder attempt against Germán Graciano, a leader from the Community. This work was focused on children from the community, and also on members of the Internal Council. The process looked at the emotional impact of what had occurred, as well as coping strategies; and security measures were revised in order to evaluate and adapt them. Finally, in coordination with several organisations from the Mesa Psicosocial, PBI participated in the collective design of a strategy for psychosocial support in light of the displacement caused by the socio-environmental crisis related to the Hidroituango project.


PBI Colombia in four stories

When Peace began to move forward This year the transitional justice institutions began to operate, and different human rights organisations accompanied by PBI Colombia presented reports on cases they have documented over the years. In 2018, PBI witnessed the first actions of the national entities for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition, such as the JEP (Special Jurisdiction for Peace) and the Truth Commission. We have accompanied, both physical and politically the first reports that were delivered, the first hearings, and even, the first meetings between these institutions and organizations accompanied by PBI. This accompaniment looks to back and legitimize the work of organizations that have already contributed to the construction of the national systems for peace. These organizations include: the Lawyers’ Collective José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), the Foundation Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (FCSPP), the Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC), the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS), the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (J&P), the Association Network of Human Rights Defenders (DH-Colombia), the Corporation Lawyers’ Collective Luis Carlos Pérez (CCALCP), and the Foundation Nydia Erika Bautista (FNEB).


On 20 April 2018, CREDHOS was the first human rights organization in representation of victims to present a report to the JEP.1 The report documents thirty cases of human rights violations that occurred during the conflict in the Magdalena Medio,2 an act witnessed by PBI as a symbol of our historic accompaniment for this organization and the support that PBI Colombia continues to provide through all of its comprehensive accompaniment areas. Over the last year and half while CREDHOS investigated and wrote the report on those 30 cases, PBI’s accompaniment was not limited to physical protection during field missions to collect information and testimonies. It was particularly focused on political accompaniment, for example, PBI nominated the organization for Diakonia’s National Human Rights Award, which they won in September 2017 in the category of “Collective Experience or Process of the Year,” making it possible for CREDHOS to participate in a U.S. advocacy tour at the beginning of 2018. The award not only generated recognition for their work on a national and international level, but it also facilitated an advocacy tour in Colombia and the U.S., in addition to self-protection workshops; activities that allowed them to strengthen their support network in and outside of Colombia. PBI actively participated in these activities. In addition, PBI’s presence during the awards ceremony fulfilled a protection objective, at that moment, but also for the future of the organization since several members of the state security forces were mentioned during the ceremony as the alleged authors of human rights violations, generating a fear of retaliation within the organization. CREDHOS continues working to document cases to deliver new reports to the JEP and in this context, it requested that PBI accompany their work throughout the Magdalena Medio region this coming year when members meet with victims, due to the high risk level of these activities that look for truth and justice.


FCSPP and COSPACC also requested our presence when delivering their reports to the JEP on the victims of the so-called “false positives” (extrajudicial executions) in Casanare.3 The petition was made not only for security reasons, but also as a strategic ally, recognizing PBI’s role throughout the registry process with the victims. In the last several months of 2018, PBI carried out physical and political accompaniment for information collection carried out by these organizations in the rural communities of Casanare. PBI carried out dissemination for a FCSPP and COSPACC event within our international support network and via our web page.4 The report will be key in the trial of retired Army General, Henry Torres Escalante, which is currently underway in the JEP5 for his alleged role as mastermind and his criminal responsibility in the disappearance and execution of civilians who were presented as enemies killed in combat in this region of the country. The report, called “Not Criminals Nor Combatants,” aims to provide key information to the transitional justice system, due its historical value and legal rigor.


Nevertheless, this act of bravery and political commitment to peace, like those of so many others who are participating in the national peace institutions, also places them face-to-face with the dizzying numbers of social leaders and human rights defenders assassinated since the signing of the peace agreements. Just between “January and June of 2018, the Information System on Aggressions against Human Rights Defenders in Colombia - SIADDHH, registered a total of 397 individual aggressions against defenders.”6

Another noteworthy event was the delivery of a report to the Truth Commission compiling 10 cases of persecution against human rights defenders between 2002-2016. This report, presented by CCAJAR, CIJP, and other civil society organizations looks to identify and demonstrate common patterns of political persecution that defenders have faced in Colombia. It documents, among others, the case of David Ravelo’s criminal prosecution, the murder of Orlando Valencia (leader and land claimant from Curbaradó, assassinated in 2005) and the threats and persecution suffered by Soraya Gutiérrez, president of CCAJAR. In the official act to delivery the report, the human rights organizations, together with the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office organized an event, inviting different representatives of civil society, State institutions, victims of the armed conflict, and international organizations to participate in panels on the protection of defenders during the armed conflict.7 PBI participated in this event. PBI was also present at bilateral meetings between FNEB and different entities of the Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition system created by the signature of the Peace Agreement in Havana, including the Truth Commission. In these bilateral meetings, FNEB offered their knowledge, acquired during years of tireless work with victims of enforced disappearance. PBI accompanied the women defenders in this work due to the threats that they have received, resulting from their documentation efforts which often show the responsibility of State agents. 43

In December 2018, CCALCP presented two reports to the JEP on 158 cases of extrajudicial executions in Catatumbo, between 2005 and 2008. The reports also reflect cases known as “false positives,” committed by members of the now defunct Mobil Brigade 15.8 PBI’s comprehensive accompaniment contributed to this work, not only with the physical and political accompaniment, by promoting meetings with national and international actors such as the International Caravan of Jurists, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and various national institutions, but also by means of psycho-social accompaniment, through meetings, convenings, and self-care and self-protection activities, as their risks not only stem from their work in the defense of human rights, but also due to the fact that it is an organization of women feminist lawyers in a male chauvinist society. Finally, on diverse occasions PBI has accompanied the initial JEP hearings against General Mario Montoya Uribe, Colombia’s most decorated military officer who is accused of being responsible for numerous extrajudicial executions. “According to the Attorney General’s report, more than a third of deaths in combat that occurred under the command of Army Gen. Mario Montoya are extrajudicial executions. That is to say, 2,429 cold blooded killings between February 2006 and November 2008.”9 In the General’s trial, a large number of the organizations accompanied by PBI, such as FNEB, DH-Colombia, FCSPP, CIJP, and CCAJAR have been present as representatives of the victims. PBI’s accompaniment in this context has had a major contribution due to the high level of emotional impacts and risk for these organizations. During the first hearing, the defense did not recognize any of the victims. In parallel, organizations such as MOVICE organized a protest requesting that “Montoya tell the truth” about the incidents. In the second hearing, under high tension, Mario Montoya’s defense continued to refuse to recognize some of the victims represented by DH Colombia lawyer, Germán Romero, who finally left the hearing in protest. It is worth highlighting that both Romero and his client, Alfamir Castillo Bermúdez, mother of a “false positive” victim under the General’s command, were threatened due to their participation in this hearing.10 These hearings represent great hope for victims of the conflict armed, with the expectation that they will learn the truth about what happened during those years; however, their participation and recognition continues to be insufficient and they face serious risks. For that reason, PBI has supported and accompanied these initiatives throughout 2018.


Foto: courtesy of the JEP

Notes 1 Justicia Especial para la Paz (JEP): Las víctimas del Magdalena Medio entregarán primer informe a la JEP, 16 August 2018 2 Hacemos Memoria: “Hicimos un informe que incluye la voz de las víctimas”: Iván Madero, 13 May 2018 3 El Tiempo: Jep recibe informe de fasos positivos en Casanare y Boyacá, 16 August 2018 4 PBI Colombia: “Neither Criminals, Nor Combatants”, 24 August 2018 5 RCN Radio: Casos de falsos positivos que involucran al general Torres Escalante llegan a la JEP 6 CCAJAR: “Más allá de las cifras. Segunda Parte”. Somos Defensores, 24 September 2018 7 CCAJAR: Organizaciones presentan informe a la Comisión de la Verdad sobre crímenes contra defensoras y defensores, 4 July 2018 8 “Como el retumbar del trueno. Justicia, el llamado de las víctimas” and “Informes de víctimas de Ejecuciones Extrajudiciales” 9 CCAJAR (comunicado conjunto): Las víctimas y la sociedad exigen que Montoya diga la verdad. Joint Press Release, 13 September 2018 10 El Espectador: Amenazan a familiar de una víctima que asiste a la audiencia contra el general (r) Montoya, 17 October 2018


Helping the international community to see the humanitarian crisis faced by defenders in Colombia In the face of an alarming increase in attacks against human rights defenders since the signing of the Peace Agreement between the Government and the FARC-EP, several civil society organizations, including PBI, decided to take coordinated actions to inform the international community of the serious situation.


It has been demonstrated that in Colombia serious smears and accusations against defenders persist. Defenders are unjustly portrayed as part of insurgent movements, making them targets for attacks.1 It is essential to change this image within the public opinion and highlight the importance of their role in the defense of their communities, their territories, and the general population’s human rights. With this aim, together with the Instituto de Estudios Políticos de la Universidad Nacional (IEPRI), an academic event was organized. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of defenders, Michel Forst,2 was invited to address defender’s important role in peacebuilding. The academic event was held on 31 July 2018, with participation from the Inspector General of the Nation, Fernando Carrillo, the Human Rights Ombudsman, Carlos Negret, and the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Alberto Brunori, among others. There was mass participation from Colombia’s civil society and media coverage of the event,3 making it possible to advance a debate on the structural causes and systematic nature of attacks against defenders. During the academic visit, meetings were organized between Michel Forst and civil society organizations, United Nations agencies, the diplomatic corp, and state institutions with the aim of presenting different perspectives on the current situation of defenders in Colombia. PBI accompanied his visit to Medellín, where he met with defenders from Antioquia and the Bajo Atrato, groups of women defenders, and land claimants, among others. We also accompanied him to the port city of Buenaventura, where he met with leaders of the Civic Strike and different communities from the Pacific region, as well as with relatives of the four Naya River Community Council leaders who were disappeared on 17 April (3 people) and 5 May 2018.4 In Bogota, he met with individuals who traveled from across the country to tell him about their situation and share their concerns regarding the threats they receive.


During those two weeks, the Rapporteur traveled to distinct regions of Colombia to meet with different sectors of civil society and defenders in their regions. On 26 November, he visited the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó where he was able to see for himself the challenges faced by the small-scale farmers in this region, which continues to be controlled by illegal armed groups that threaten those who denounce them.7 On 3 December, in a press conference that closed his visit, Michel Forst highlighted the alarming situation faced by human rights defenders in Colombia, particularly those committed to the Peace Agreement’s implementation. During meetings with State institutions, including the Chancellor’s Office, a commitment was reached to organize an official visit from the Rapporteur to Colombia, so that he could carry out an exhaustive analysis of the situation of defenders and the government efforts to facilitate their work.5 This visit took place between 20 November and 3 December.6 PBI collaborated, together with civil society platforms, in organizing his field visits and providing written reports on the risks faced by defenders.


He also alerted to the scarce results from the Attorney General’s Office for investigations into the masterminds behind attacks against defenders8 and urged the State to take urgent and effective prevention and protection measures: “Human rights defenders in Colombia are operating in a coercive and unsafe environment; [n]ot only that, they are also depicted by diverse sectors of society as guerrillas, the internal enemy, informants, or as being antidevelopment.”9 Special Rapporteur Michel Forst will write a final report with recommendations for the Colombian State, which will be presented at the General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, in March 2020. Meanwhile, the Rapporteur made some initial recommendations. He will monitor those recommendations with the institutions that expressed a commitment to the protection of defenders. Concluding his visit, we had the honor of receiving Michel Forst at our Bogotá office, where he personally thanked us for the support and collaboration provided by PBI during his time in Colombia. In the future, PBI will monitor the implementation of commitments acquired by the different institutions, as well as the evolution of the risks faced defenders in Colombia.


1 FIDH: COLOMBIA: ¡Basta de estigmatización a las personas defensoras de derechos humanos!, 21 November 2017; Notimérica: La ONU denuncia la “estigmatización” de los defensores de los DDHH en Colombia, 20 December 2017; this issue is also mentioned in Plan de Acción Oportuna de Prevención y Protección para los defensores de Derechos Humanos, líderes sociales, comunales y periodistas, política pública coordinada por el Ministerio del Interior, 19 November 2018, p7, p33 2OHCHR: Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders 3 RCN Radio, Delegado de la ONU se reunió con defensores de Derechos Humanos, 31July 2018; El Espectador: “Los líderes sociales no son enemigos del Estado”: Michel Forst, 1 August 2018 4 CIJP: El drama de la búsqueda de los desaparecidos en Naya, 19 July 2018 5 OHCHR: UN expert to assess situation of human rights defenders, 19 November 2018 6 PBI Colombia: UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders: Visit to Colombia Begins, 21 November 2018 7 PBI Colombia: The Voice that will Carry the Concerns of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, 30 November 2018. 8 El Espectador: “Las cifras de la Fiscalía no convencen”: relator de la ONU, 4 December 2018 9 Noticias ONU: Los defensores de los derechos humanos en Colombia son un “blanco fácil”, 3 December 2018


"I am German Graciano" After the attack against German Graciano, legal representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, an integral accompaniment has been realized, to him and the members of the Peace Community, from the four pillars of PBI.

Germán Graciano Posso (36 years old), leader and current legal representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, has suffered diverse attacks and threats throughout his life due to his work in favor of human rights. Since he was young his life has been marked by the violence generated by Colombia’s armed conflict. During the most intense years of violence in Urabá, thirteen of Germán’s family members were assassinated, including his father and two brothers.1 With the signing of the Peace Agreement, the violence did not cease and on the contrary the Gaitanist Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) expanded its territorial control in the rural communities of San José de Apartadó.2 During the past few years, the AGC has continued the threats and attacks against Peace Community members. The last of these attacks occurred on 29 December 2017, when the Germán Graciano and another community leader survived an armed assassination attempt in La Holandita, the Peace Community’s main settlement, at the hands of four presumed members of the AGC.3 The threats, criminal prosecutions, and in particular this assassination attempt have limited Germán’s ability to visit the different hamlets of San José de Apartadó, restricting his agricultural work and his work as human rights defender and community leader.


It should be mentioned that the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó was granted provisional measures by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2000 and in February 2018 the Court ordered that the Colombian State provide specific, individual, and immediate protection measures to Germán Graciano. In addition, given the alleged participation of members of the Army’s XVII Brigade in the December 2017 assassination attempt against Germán, the IACHR ordered that the Brigade not participate in the individual protection measures.4 In the framework of our comprehensive accompaniment for the Peace Community and considering its risk and important work in the defense of human rights, PBI Colombia has reinforced our presence and accompaniment in our four work areas to protect the community’s workspace. This led to Germán Graciano’s nomination for the National Award for the Defense of Human Rights, granted by Diakonia and the Swedish Church. Among dozens of social leaders nominated nationally, Germán was chosen for the category of Defender of the Year5. In September 2018 Germán traveled to Bogotá to receive the award during a ceremony with participation from the State’s main entities and representatives of the diplomatic corp.6 Nevertheless, a few days after his return to the community, he once again received a death threat via telephone. The threat came from a recognized neo-paramilitary in San José de Apartadó.7

In spite of the fact that different entities of the new government have signed the Pact for Life in Apartadó, for the protection of social leaders8, the Peace Community has not seen improvements in its security situation. On the contrary, once again Germán and the Peace Community faced judicial persecution, by means of a tutela (writ of protection of constitutional rights) presented by the Army’s XVII Brigade. In this tutela, the Brigade’s commander stated that denouncements published by the Peace Community on in its web page regarding ties between military personnel and neoparamilitaries violate the Military Unit’s constitutional rights to “Honor” and a “Good Name,” which is why it requested that the Peace Community retract its denouncements. Even though tutelas are legal remedies for the defense of citizen rights in the face of State non-fulfillment or for individuals who face a situation of defenselessness or subordination9, the court of first instance of Apartadó ruled in favor of the Brigade and ordered that that the Peace Community rectify the public denouncements.


This tutela ruling presents elements of unconstitutionality. This was highlighted in a press release signed by 74 Colombian organizations who questioned the ruling and requested that the Constitutional Court review the ruling, as it affects the Peace Community members’ right to free expression and denouncement, as recognized in the Colombian Constitution and diverse international treaties signed by the State.10 The Peace Community responded that it would not rectify its denouncements and appealed to the right to conscientious objection, due to its rupture with State Institutions and the judicial apparatus in response to the high level of impunity in the cases they have denounced in the past.11 PBI Colombia and other organizations that are part of the Peace Community’s support network have made great efforts to alert the international community and State institutions to this new attack against the community. In this context, PBI promoted a public letter directed to the Constitutional Court and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, signed by 71 international organizations, networks, and platforms from Europe and the United States. The letter requests that the Constitutional Court review the tutela’s constitutionality.12 PBI also promoted a visit to the Peace Community from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, who visited the Peace Community13 and met with Germán Graciano on 26 November. At the end of his visit to Colombia, Michel Forst issued a declaration where he described the tutela filed by the XVII Brigade against the Peace Community as very concerning and stated that, “the Army’s use of a tutela in this case establishes a dangerous precedent and it could have collateral effects, not only in silencing and criminalizing the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, but also to deter other human rights defenders from denouncing presumed human rights violations.”14


In spite of these actions, the Apartadó court of first instance issued an order for a five day arrest and a fine equal to five minimum wages.15 PBI accompanied Germán when he traveled to Bogotá, where he met with representatives of the diplomatic corp in Bogotá to raise awareness regarding the judicial persecution against himself and the Peace Community. Although the Constitutional Court decided not to review the tutela, after efforts carried out by PBI and the Peace Community’s support network, the higher court of Apartadó decided to intervene in the case and review the sanctions imposed against Germán. On 7 December, this court issued a resolution that annulled the application of contempt and the sanction of arrest and fines, as they are incompatible with the provisional measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights16, however the tutela ruling is still in effect. Be means of this ruling Germán recovered his freedom of movement and could attend the 10 December celebration of International Human Rights Day, organized by the United Nations in Bogotá, where he was public recognized for his work as a human rights defender.17 He could also return to San José de Apartadó and spend Christmas with his family and the community to which he has dedicated his life. PBI’s accompaniment - both physical accompaniment in the field and political accompaniment via advocacy - over the last year has made it possible to avert a repetition of the attacks against Germán’s life and that of other Peace Community members. It has also made it possible to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of criminal prosecution carried out by the state security forces, and safeguard his personal freedom, which was threatened by the arrest warrant against him. To complement these efforts, this year, PBI provided psycho-social accompaniment to counter the emotional impacts, on a community level, generated by the described events. This is how PBI has been able to provide comprehensive accompaniment to the peace community, which it plans to continue this next year. Thus, it has been possible to protect the Peace Community and Germán’s space to work in favor of human rights. At the end of January 2019, we received word that the Constitutional Court chose this tutela for review. For that reason, all legal actions against Germán Graciano have been suspended until there is a ruling, hopefully favorable, on the tutela. 53


1 Operazione Colomba: Estos son los 20 Mejores Líderes de Colombia 2015, 6 October 2015 2 Verdad Abierta: La sombra ‘gaitanista’ que cubre San José de Apartadó, 17 May 2017 3 Colombia 2020: Comunidad de paz de San José de Apartadó ha denunciado amenaza paramilitar todo el año, 1 January 2018. 4 Inter-American Court of Human Rights: Medidas provisionales respecto de la República de Colombia. Asunto Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, 5 February 2018. 5 Premio Nacional a la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Colombia: Ganadores Séptima Versión, 28 August 2018. 6 Colombia 2020: Defensores de la vida, resistentes a amenazas, 6 September 2018. 7 Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó: Nuestros ojos siguen viendo y nuestros cuerpos siguen sintiendo, 20 September 2018. 8 Ministerio del Interior: Pacto por la Vida y la Protección de los Líderes sociales y las personas defensoras de derechos humanos , 23 August 2018. 9 Red de Derechos Humanos del Suroccidente Colombiano: Acción de Tutela. 10 Análisis Urbano et al, Comunicado a la opinión pública: Rechazamos los señalamientos a la Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó y a sus líderes, 6 December 2018. 11Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó: Nuestros victimarios reinvindican el derecho a amordazar, y el poder judicial se los concede, 15 November 2018. 12 ABColombia et al: Protection Measures for the Legal Representative of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, department of Antioquia, Colombia, 6 November 2018. 13 PBI Colombia: The Voice that will Carry the Concerns of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, 30 November 2018. 14 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michel Forst: End of Mission Statement Declaration of Aim of Mission, 3 of December of 2018. 15 El Espectador: Germán Graciano, premio nacional de Derechos Humanos, será arrestado por desacato, 4 December 2018. 16 Juzgado Segundo Civil del Circuito de Apartadó. Radicado No. 05045-4089-002-2018-00633-01. 17 ONU Derechos Humanos Colombia, Día Internacional de los Derechos Humanos conmemoramos 70 años DUDH con homenaje a defensoras y defensores de ddhh, y a la Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, 10 December 2018. Gloria Castrillón, “Yo soy Graciano”, dice Jesús Abad Colorado en defensa de la Comunidad de Paz de Apartadó, que ha sido atacada y amenazada constantemente, 10 December 2018. PBI Colombia, Especial mencion de Jesus Abad Colorado para German Graciano Posso, Representante Legal de la Comunidad de Paz, en Aniversario 70 años Declaracion ONU: I AM GERMAN. “I am shamed that a Military Brigade files a tutela against a victimized Community, 10 December 2018.


“We, the Peace Community, have understood this tutela to be an attack, to finish off once and for all our process of nonviolent resistance. [...] For us, the only thing that has made it possible for our voice to be heard, for us to be seen, is in thanks to the international support that arose after the tutela. And it is in thanks to the international support that the arrest warrant was annulled, that the tutela that is still in effect will be annulled, it allows us to continue forward as a Peace Community�. German Graciano


Self-Care as a Political Project PBI's work in support of the reconstruction of the social fabric is oriented to address fear and ruptures in organi-zational initiatives affected by sociopolitical violence. In essence, these spaces address elements that make it possible to give meaning to and re-signify experiences,in addition to developing strategies for the continuity of the organizational initiatives.

The effects of sociopolitical violence can paralyze a human rights defenders’ work and weaken

the social movements capacity to resist and organize to seek political, social, and economic alternatives. In 2018, from PBI’s work area to Support the Reconstruction of the Social Fabric we have accompanied a group of twenty-five women, family members of disappeared individuals. These women are members of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) - Valle del Cauca chapter. It is an accompaniment process that began in Buenaventura in 2017 and is focused on psycho-social support, self-care, and mutual care. Our accompaniment is aligned with MOVICE’s strategy to fight impunity, and in favor of truth and justice in the search for disappeared individuals, guarantees of non-repetition, and comprehensive reparation, where a methodological proposal meets empowerment using elements of historical truth. The women face different realities and intersectionalities.


On top of being woman, victims of enforced disappearance, and human rights defenders in Colombia, they are also: mothers heads of household, unemployed, some in situations of poverty, and inhabitants of a depressed area of the municipality. In spite of all these differential conditions, their participation and attendance has been ongoing and sustained over time. The women manifest the space’s importance and its contributions on a personal level, but also on a group level due to the collectively constructed tools. Within the achievements seen during the process, trust building must be highlighted in a context where violence has generated a major rupture in the family and community social fabric, a central aspect of the Buenaventura culture. We also saw an appropriation of analysis to understand their reality and context, through a training and orientation process. According to the women, this space has contributed to strengthening the process to build a collective, a sense of recognizing themselves as part of the group, of supporting each other, and as a place to deposit ancestral knowledge that leads to well-being and a recognition of their own identities. In addition, they saw personal improvements regarding the impacts of the victimizing incidents. The women were able to develop strategies, from a collective space, that they can also use on a personal level and in their daily lives to increase their well-being.

“Self-care is not a luxury for peace times, but a safety strategy: as women defenders, if we continue working in spite of the stress and exhaustion we are less aware of the risks or it is harder to address them. Self-care is not only fundamental for the well-being of women defenders on an individual level, but also for the survival of the movements and organizations. Self-care is a political strategy of resilience and resistance in the face of aggression that seeks to debilitate the organizations and movements dedicated to achieving justice and the defense of human rights” (“Diálogos entre nosotras: ¿Qué significa el autocuidado para las defensoras de derechos humanos?” (Dialogues Among Us: What does self-care mean for women human rights defenders?). Mesoamericana Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders). Through self-care and the accompaniment process, we can facilitate and open a space to process conflicts, tensions, and fears. This happens in a space that does not permit the women defenders’ revictimization and makes it possible for them to continue their work, integrating self-care into their day-to-day lives on a personal level, but also in their family and organization. Being a woman human rights defender in Colombia signifies daily risks. In a context of increasing criminalization against the defense of human rights, work in favor of comprehensive protection that incorporates a self-care approach is the foundation to confront structural violence that is layered on gender discrimination. This in itself is a political strategy to guarantee that women defenders can continue their work in collective initiatives and the defense of human rights.



Human and financial resources report



uring 2018, PBI Colombia maintained 20 field volunteers (6 men and 14 women) distributed in three teams (Barrancabermeja, Bogotรก and Urabรก), 10 brigadistas who support the field team with administrative and operational coordination from our office in Bogotรก and 2 in Europe (5 men and 7 women). These people originate from the United Kingdom, Chile, France, Argentina, Spain, Paraguay, Belgium, Mexico, Germany, Bolivia, Switzerland, Guatemala, Italy and Peru. This year 4 selection processes were held for support workers and 3 for external consultancies (Support for the Mainstreaming of our Gender Approach, Triennial External Evaluation and Support to Update Internal Manuals). The organisation received 100 applications for field volunteers (77 women and 33 men), 19 of whom were invited to participate in a training and selection week, and 14 of these candidates were selected for the field teams (12 women and 2 men). The international structure of PBI Colombia is also supported by local staff who carry out accounting, logistical and domestic work. These 7 people (6 women and 1 man) have received support and training from an international group of experts in Management Systems and Security at Work, and thanks to this support, PBI incorporated improvements and took the necessary measures to adjust its systems to this standard in 2018. In 2018, PBI expanded its policy of zero tolerance against harassment and abuse from members of the organisation by incorporating more precise and clear protocols, as well as faster and safer communication channels. This renewed policy will be shared within PBI Colombia, and with our partners and accompanied organisations throughout 2019.



n the second half of 2018, PBI faced one of its most difficult moments with the death of our much-loved colleague Juan Carlos Solís after an illness. Juan Carlos was a renowned human rights defender in Mexico and responsible for PBI Colombia’s Digital Security. The emotional and technical impacts of this loss were enormous for the whole PBI team, which we resolved as much as possible by redistributing resources, and by strengthening our team to face the emotional loss. This sad process has lead to a strong collective sense of togetherness, based on solidarity and mutual support.


Financial report


eace Brigades International (PBI), is a non-governmental organization recognized by the UN, with a permanent team of international observers - accompaniers in Colombia since 1994.

Since its main office is abroad, 100% of its funding comes from international sources. There are no specific accounting regulations for this type of organization, hence, it registers its economic operations under the general guidelines for nonprofit organizations. PBI Colombia’s accounting standards fulfill those established in the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in Colombia. Operations are adjusted to the standards contained in Law 1314 and its regulatory decrees 2420 and 2496 of 2015 -- IFRS for SMEs. The project’s accounts have been audited by the firm CIP Auditores Ltda. Exchange Rate Differential PBI Colombia Project financial statements are reported in Colombian pesos (currency used to register economic, financial, and equity operations in Colombia) at the end of each accounting period, and are presented in US Dollars (currency used to register revenue and expenses in the United States) and Euros (for revenue and expenses in the Eurozone). Revenue and expenses are registered in the accounting system with the originally used currency. An “exchange rate differential account” is used for the monetization of revenue in the “donations receivable” account, and is used when registering accounts receivable, advances, and the legalization of these transactions in currencies other than the Colombian peso, and also within different months. These registries are made in the income accounts. The following numbers and results correspond to the 2018 period and reflect the financial situation of the Colombia Project of Peace Brigades International (PBI). The resources transferred to PBI by international agencies to carry out its objective in Colombia are recorded in accounting as revenue; costs generated by activities corresponding to the institutional mandate are recorded as expenses. Currently, the organization does not have investments nor accounts that generate interest and could be recognized as income from a national source, which would be grounds to pay income tax. Meanwhile, the organization recognizes as expenses those that are generated in relation to causation and association of revenue, which are always allocated in accordance with the organization’s general budget.


Financial Statements at the Closing of the Annual Accounts At the closing of 2018, on 31 December, the accounts showed a € 1,783 deficit for that period. The total (operational) revenue reached at total of € 777,005 and expenses were € 788.974. Due to a favorable exchange rate differential, an additional € 9,759 in non-operational revenue was obtained, representing a total revenue of € 786,764. Gains not related to exchange rate were € 427.

In graphics:

How we spend





PBI Colombia is thankful to its funding agencies : Agencia Catalana de Cooperación y Desarrollo (ACCD) I Agencia Extremeña de Cooperación Internacional para el desarrollo I Agencia Vasca de Cooperación para el Desarrollo I Ayuntamiento de Barcelona I Ayuntamiento de Donostia I Brot für die Welt – Bread for The World I Christian Aid I Christian Aid I Commune de Bernex Ferster Foundation I Fonds de Solidarité du Barreau de Paris I Governement of Navarra I ICCO – Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation I Kirche St. Gallen I Kirchgemeinde Saanen I Mensen met een Missie I Ministery of Foreign Affaires of Norway I Ministery of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands I Open Society Foundations I Oxfam/ Spanish Agency of Cooperation for Development I Protect Defenders / The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) I Peace Cvil Service - Ministey of Economic and Development Cooperation of Germany I UNIFOR Canadá I Individual donations I PBI Germany I PBI Canada I PBI Cataluña I PBI Spanish State I PBI France (Non Violence XXI) I PBI Nafarroa I PBI Norway I PBI Switzerland I PBI UK

Annual Report 2018

PBI Colombia, may 2019


PBI Colombia


María Lessmes

Redaction and edition

PBI Colombia

Layout and design

PBI Colombia


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© PBI Colombia

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The opiniones and positions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of Peace Brigades International or its funding agencies



Peace Brigades International (PBI) is a non-governmental organisation recognised by the United Nations, which has maintained a team of international observers/accompaniers in Colombia on an ongoing basis since 1994. PBI’s mission is to protect the working environment of human rights defenders, who face repression due to their non-violent human rights activities. PBI Colombia teams remain in the field, at the request of local organisations, accompanying persons and organisations under threat. This fieldwork is complemented by significant dialogue and advocacy with civilian and military authorities, as well as with NGOs, the Church, multilateral bodies, and the diplomatic corp, in order to promote human rights and disseminate information on the human rights situation in Colombia.

If you believe PBI’s presence helps protect persons who carry out human rights work, you may do the following: •

Support us economically on a personal or institutional basis.

Join the nearest PBI country group and support the international network from your place of residence.

Apply to become a volunteer with one of the PBI projects.


Proyecto PBI Colombia Washington, DC (USA) Tel. (+57) 310 2938329 repusa@pbicolombia.net

Delegation of PBI in Colombia Bogotá, Colombia Tel. (+57) 1287 0403 comunicaciones@pbicolombia.net

PBI Proyect Colombia, Eiuropean Union Tel. (+34) 634 256 337 coordinacion.europa@ pbicolombia.net