Congressman Ivan Cepeda, a prominent human rights activist, on Thursday claimed his life is at risk after accusing ex-president Alvaro Uribe of paramilitary links.
Cepeda said he receives threats on a daily basis and that his safety is in question after he publicly denounced ties between ex-president Alvaro Uribe and paramilitary groups.
“I claimed that a group of people in the town of Melgar are preparing an attack against me, and that this group is financed by the Gallon Henao brothers, who are connected to ex-president Uribe,” Cepeda said.
The congressman has been targeted throughout his career and was forced to live in exile on two separate occasions due to his perseverance in fighting for human rights. His father, Senator Manuel Cepeda, was assassinated while in office in 1994.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Colombian government to double security measures for Cepeda in an open letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, dated April 1. The letter, which expressed “deep concern” for the security of Congressman Cepeda, was signed by the head of HRW’s Latin American department, José Miguel Vivanco, and representatives from the Washington Office on Latin America, the U.S. Office on Latin America, and the Latin America Working Group Education Fund.
“Due to the gravity of the threats received by representative Cepeda, we advise the government, with all due respect, to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee his security as well as that of his judicial and legislative team. It is extremely important that the government sends a clear message that Colombia does not accept the intimidation of human rights defenders,” Vivanco stated in the letter.
“[Cepeda] received an anonymous call warning him of an alleged plot to attack him in Bogota. This call is one of the most recent of numerous threats received by the congressman over the past year,” the letter claimed, refering to a threat received during a meeting with the activists in Washington D.C in February.
In the letter, the human rights defenders praised Cepeda for his work.
“Cepeda has made commendable efforts to achieve justice for victims of human rights violations. His contributions have been crucial in strengthening state law in Colombia, in particular, to hold powerful paramilitary mafias accountable for their acts.”
- Human Rights Watch official letter to President Juan Manuel Santos 01/04/2013
- Human Rights Watch pide al Gobierno redoblar seguridad a Iván Cepeda (Radio Caracol)
- Mi vida corre peligro por denuncias a Álvaro Uribe: Iván Cepeda (Radio Caracol)