3 May 2002

Fear for Safety/Death Threats

COLOMBIA: Yolanda Becerra (f), President of the Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), Popular Women's Organization in Barrancabermeja, Santander department Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Yolanda Becerra, President of the Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), Popular Women's Organization. The paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, (AUC), United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia is reportedly planning to kill her.

Members of the Union Sindical Obrera, (USO), Oil worker's Union, have been informed by credible sources of a plot to kill Yolanda Becerra. The OFP and the local police have reportedly received similar information from other sources. Yolanda Becerra has been threatened in the past (See Further information UA 22/01, AMR 23/087/2001, 7 September 2001 and follow ups) and may have been targeted because her organisation continues to denounce human rights violations committed by paramilitary groups, as they attempt to take control of the region.

Concerns for Yolanda Becerra's safety are heightened by the killing of Diofanol Sierra Vargas, leader of the food workers' union (SINTRAINAL) and OFP associate, who was shot outside his house by paramilitaries on 8 April. (UA 111/02 issued 11 April 2002).

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

- urging the authorities to take appropriate measures to guarantee the safety of Yolanda Becerra, President of the Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), so she can continue her legitimate work for the defence and promotion of human rights;

- calling for an immediate, impartial and full investigation into the reported threats to kill Yolanda and for those responsible to be brought to justice;

- urging the government to adhere to its obligations regarding human rights defenders, as laid out in United Nation and Organization of American States declarations, and in line with the UN's repeated recommendations that they should take measures to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders;

- expressing concern that the government has taken no effective action against paramilitary groups in the Barrancabermeja area, despite their own commitments and UN recommendations to combat and dismantle these groups;

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the security forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of Santander, urging that the results are made public, and that those responsible for supporting and participating in such groups are brought to justice.

> This Urgent Action appeal was written at Amnesty International's research headquarters at its International Secretariat in London, United Kingdom. Amnesty International is an independent worldwide movement working impartially for the release of all prisoners of conscience, fair and prompt trials for political prisoners and an end to torture and executions. It is funded by donations from its members and supporters throughout the world.


Minister of the Interior:
Dr. Armando Estrada Villa,
Ministro del Interior
Ministerio del Interior,
Palacio Echeverry
Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.,
Santafe de Bogota, Colombia
Telegram: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia
Fax: 011 57 1 562 5298/ 562 9890 (these numbers may be difficult to get through to, but please keep trying)
Salutation: Dear Minister Estrada Villa / Sr. Ministro Estrada Villa

Minister of Defense:
Dr. Gustavo Bell
Ministro de Defensa Nacional, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52,Oficina 217,
Santafe de Bogota, Colombia
Telegram: Ministro de Defensa, Bogota, Colombia
Telex: 396 42411 INPRE CO; 396 44561 CFAC CO
Fax: 011 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Dear Minister Bell / Sr. Ministro Bell

Governor of Santander Department:
Sr. Jorge Eliecer Gomez Villamizar, Gobernador del Departamento de
Santander, Gobernacion de Santander,
Calle 37, No. 10-30,
Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
Telegram: Gobernador Santander, Bucaramanga, Santander, Colombia
Fax: 011 57 76 339889
Salutation: Dear Governor Gomez Villamizar / Sr. Gobernador Gomez Villamizar

President of Colombia:
Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana
Presidente de la Republica
Palacio de Narino
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafe de Bogota, Colombia
Telegrams: President Pastrana, Bogota, Colombia
Telex: 396 44281 PALP CO
Fax: 011 57 1 566 2071
Salutation: Excelentisimo Sr. Presidente Pastrana /Dear President Pastrana

Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Pl. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: 1 202 232 8643


Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if sending appeals after June 24, 2002. Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights. Please do not repost this appeal to any part of the Internet without prior permission from Amnesty International. Thank you for your help with this appeal.