29 October 2001

 UA 275/01 Fear for Safety

 COLOMBIA Gladys AVILA (f), Secretary General of the Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared (ASFADDES)

 Gloria HERNEY (f), ASFADDES General Coordinator

 Other human rights workers with ASFADDES

Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of Gladys

 Avila, Gloria Herney and other human rights defenders with the

 Asociacion de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos,

 (ASFADDES), Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared.


 Following threatening telephone calls and months of constant

 surveillance by unknown individuals, ASFADDES workers had not

 gone into their Bogota office on 21 October. At 8pm, Gladys Avila,

 Secretary General of ASFADDES, received an anonymous call at her

 home, in which the caller said: 'ah les dio miedo y no salieron las

 hijueputas', 'so you were scared and you didn't go out you sons-of-

 bitches'. Using a mobile telephone provided by the Minister of Interior

 as a security measure, Gladys Avila telephoned her colleague Gloria

 Herney to warn her about what had just happened. Shortly after the

 call, the mobile telephone stopped working.


 At 9pm, on the same day, Gloria Herney saw three men she did not

 know, waiting outside her building as she returned to her home.

 Feeling unsafe, she decided not to enter. In recent weeks anonymous

 telephone calls have been made to the ASFADDES office in which

 the callers ask whether Gloria Herney is at work, before hanging up.


 In addition, interference is heard on the office telephones, raising

 concerns that they are being tapped. Criminal investigations into the

 forced 'disappearance' of ASFADDES workers Angel Quintero and

 Claudia Monsalve in October 2000 in Medellin, have established that

 members of the security forces were illegally tapping ASFADDES's

 telephones in Medellin prior to their 'disappearance'.


 Concerns are further heightened by the fact that these events, follow

 the circulation of a message on the Internet at the end of August,

 which declared that the Grupo de Limpieza Urbana, Urban Cleansing

 Group of the army-backed paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas

 de Colombia (AUC), United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, would

 be starting a 'clean-up campaign' (campana de limpieza) to rid

 Colombia of people they believe to be urban guerrillas. The message

 was received by email by several non-governmental human rights




 ASFADDES is a non-governmental organization made up of relatives

 of people who have 'disappeared' during the ongoing conflict in

 Colombia. It aims to discover what has happened to the 'disappeared'

 and bring those responsible to justice. ASFADDES members, other

 human rights defenders and witnesses of human rights violations,

 have endured death threats, killings and disappearances at the hands

 of the security forces and their paramilitary allies. In October 2000,

 Angel Quintero and Claudia Monsalve of the Medellin branch of

 ASFADDES 'disappeared' (UA 259/00 issued 9 October 2000). Their

 whereabouts remain unknown.


 The security forces and their paramilitary allies have a policy of

 accusing human rights organizations of supporting or collaborating

 with the guerillas, so they can present them as legitimate military

 targets. At least 25 human rights defenders have been killed or

 'disappeared' in the last three years.


 RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

 as possible:

 - expressing concern for the safety of human rights defenders Gladys

 Avila, Gloria Herney and others working with ASFADDES;

 - calling for full and impartial investigations into the threatening

 telephone calls, the possible telephone tapping of the ASFADDES

 offices and the constant surveillance faced by members of


 - urging that all measures, deemed appropriate by those under threat

 themselves, are taken to guarantee their safety;

 - calling for a full and impartial investigation into the recent

 paramilitary threats circulated via the Internet to a number of non-

 governmental organizations, urging that the results are made public

 and those responsible brought to justice;

 - urging the government to adhere to its obligations to protect human

 rights defenders, as set out by the United Nations Declaration on the

 Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of

 Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human

 Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Organization of

 American States;

 - asking the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle

 paramilitary groups, in line with stated government commitments and

 United Nations recommendations.





 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 1 286 7434/562 9300

 Salutation: Excelentisimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President



 Minister of Defense:

 Dr. Gustavo Bell

 Ministro de Defensa Nacional

 Ministerio de Defensa Nacional

 Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52, Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

 Telegram: Ministro de Defensa, Bogota, Colombia

 Telex: 396 42411 INPRE CO;

 Fax: 011 57 1 286 4126 / 281 1213 / 222 1874

 Salutation: Dear Minister / Sr. Ministro


 Minister of Interior:

 Sr. Armando Estrada Villa

 Ministro del Interior

 Ministerio del Interior, Palacio Echeverry

 Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.

 Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

 Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia

 Fax: 011 57 1 341 9583 / 334 3960/286 8405/281 5884

 Salutation: Dear Sir / Sr. Ministro



 Association of the Families of the Detained-Disappeared:


 AA 011446



 Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno

 Embassy of Colombia

 2118 Leroy Pl. NW

 Washington DC 20008





 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 December 10, 2001.


 Ensuring letter-writing actions are not disrupted by new security



 In the light of current security concerns, including concerns about

 anthrax being sent through the post to media and government

 addresses, authorities in the US and elsewhere will be implementing

 security procedures to ensure the safety of mail. Letters to

 government officials will be carefully scrutinized and this may mean a

 significant delay before they reach the recipients.


 This may have an impact on how we can best ensure that appeals on

 UA cases and other actions are delivered as quickly as possible.


 Below are some simple suggestions for activists involved in sending

 appeals to minimize potential disruption and to ensure that our

 concerns reach the authorities as quickly as possible:

 - where possible consider using fax, e-mail etc or postcards,

 rather than sealed envelopes, to send appeal letters to authorities.

 - - if letters are sent:

 - put a return address on the envelope (the letter should be

 sent from the same area)

 - provide a complete address and title and write clearly

 - - don't put lots of enclosures in envelopes

 - - don't seal envelopes with tape