After receiving a letter from the United States government criticizing the lack of safety for Colombian land rights activits, the country’s interior minister on Tuesday said that the government is and “will [continue taking] all steps to ensure” activists’ safety.
Seven U.S. congressmen sent a letter to Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos expressing concern over the deteriorating security for indigenous populations and especially for land rights activists “in [the] communities of the Curvarado and Jiguamiando river basins and the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) …which accompanies the communities.”
“CIJP affirms that 45 leaders are currently under threat, including members of the designated Humanitarian Zones and Biodiversity Zones. Likewise, CIJP members have been a target of threat and harrassment, both in Bogota and in the regions where the organization carries out field work,” read the letter.
Fernando Carrillo, Colombia’s minister of the interior, responded by saying “of course the most important issue is to ensure exceptional security measures for threatened leaders. I gave precise instructions to the National Protection Unit to take all necessary [steps] in pursuit of that goal.”
“We also have regular contact with the community [in order] to immediately address situations that arise. In fact, we know of those mentioned in the letter signed by seven [members] of the United States Congress and have [addressed it]…You will understand that I can not go on to explain what these measures [are], for the safety of the community…But rest assured that the government is [addressing the issue].”