287 Colombian judicial officers have been assassinated and hundreds more were subjected to violence and intimidation over the past 20 years, the association of judicial employees said Friday.
Over the past two decades, 750 officers of the judiciary have been threatened (220 in the last four years alone), 42 have been kidnapped, 39 are missing, 39 have been forced into exile and 31 were forced to relocate.
The most recent attack, the murder of Judge Gloria Constanza Gaona on March 22, prompted the National Association of Employees of the Judicial Branch (Asonal Judicial) to call a national day of protest with a demonstration which took place in Bogota Friday.
The demonstration was attended by over 41,000 judicial workers and took place at the Paloquemao Judicial Complex in downtown Bogota. Black banners were hung from buildings as a sign of mourning and images of 160 victims were displayed in the square of the complex.
Nelson Cantillo, president of Asonal Judicial said, “If we take into account that 287 homicides of judicial employees have been committed in the last 20 years, that gives us an average of one murder per month. These are outrageous figures, figures that may not move the government but they move us, which is why we called this day of protest.”
Abel Barreto president of the National Association of Litigating lawyers was also at the demonstration as a sign of solidarity.
Judge Gaona was presiding over the case of three murdered siblings in which members of the army are suspects. She was shot and killed on her way to a municipal court in in the town of Saravena in the Arauca department last week. The family of the murdered children have received death threats and will enter a protection and relocation program.