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Amnesty blasts Colombia protections for human rights activists

[JURIST] Amnesty International [advocacy website] on Thursday criticized Colombia [press release] for allowing attacks on human rights defenders, calling on the international community to provide more support for local activists in Colombia [JURIST news archive]. In a new report [text] released Thursday, Amnesty blamed the Colombian government for facilitating hostilities against human rights activists and highlighted an apparently coordinated effort by Colombian security forces and paramilitary groups to discredit activists. Amnesty also called on Colombian President Alvaro Uribe [BBC profile] to publicly recognize "the legitimacy of human rights activists," prosecute those responsible for human rights violations, and prevent the "use of unfounded criminal charges against human rights activists."

Though Amnesty says rights workers receive limited physical protections from the Colombian government, it argues that activists need guarantees that the government will respect their efforts to expose human rights violations in the country, particularly in remote areas with a weak government presence. Several activist groups and individuals have been threatened politically and physically, and Amnesty argues that the government undermines the work of the activists by not investigating threats and effectively silences some activists. Earlier this year, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture [advocacy websites] cited Colombia in a study [text, PDF; JURIST report] detailing the thousands of activists around the world that were subject to murder, assaults, imprisonment and other forms of repression in 2005. AP has more.

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