400 ombudsmen met in Valledupar in the northern department of Cesar
yesterday to analyze security threats that their work entails. Two
ombudsmen were assassinated and 131 have received death threats in the
past year alone.
President of the National Federation of Ombudsmen Lourdes Insignares
Castilla expressed his concern over the vulnerable situation many of the officials are faced with.
El Heraldo reported Fernando Escobar, Ombudsman for Soacha was threatened by pamphlets branding him a coward, friend of the guerrillas and enemy of the armed forces, after he reported the deaths of thirteen civilians as ‘false positives’. Escobar said the pamphlet was signed by paramilitary group ‘Unidas de
Castilla said he was another of the many who had also received similar threats.
El Heraldo believes threats and acts of violence against Ombudsmen “generally come from illegal organizations and anonymous armed forces”.
The Ministry of Homeland Security and Justice has offered the Ombudsmen increased protection and an investigation into associated risks.
The meeting of the Ombudsmen in Valledupar will run until the end of next week. As well as security, issues such as protection of natural resources and the application of the Justice and Peace law are also on the agenda.