CREDHOS: 2010 – 2013

Among the most severe attacks against the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS) in 2014, the following are worthy of note:

Threats and acts of attacks

  • 2010: David Ravelo, a member of CREDHOS, received several threats between May and July 2010. These threats were made through his family. One of his children received several calls from people who claimed they were going to kill David Ravelo, and that his family should begin to prepare for his funeral. In another threat, the caller told his child that they had already killed Ravelo.[1] Ravelo’s mother-in-law also received a threatening phone call advising her of a plan to have him killed.[2] “They are targeting my family, my most vulnerable point, with the purpose of keeping me in a constant state of uncertainty”, is David Ravelo’s take on the situation.[3] Over the course of his career, Ravelo has lodged numerous public complaints regarding extrajudicial executions, assassinations, displacements, and forced disappearances in the Magdalena Medio. In the last five years, he and other members of CREDHOS have received various threats in the form of telephone calls, flyers, and emails.[4]
  • 13 January 2012: Death threat at gunpoint against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano, member of CREDHOS.[5]
  • 1 February 2012: Death threat against María Ravelo (CREDHOS) and the ACVC in a pamphlet found in CREDHOS’s headquarters in Barrancabermeja.[6]
  • 8 March 2012: Death threat via email to David Ravelo Gutiérrez, son of David Ravelo Crespo (CREDHOS), and the rest of their family.[7]
  • 30 April 2012: Two unidentified persons are seen photographing the house of Vladimir Amaya Garcés, a security guard assigned to Abelardo Sánchez (CREDHOS).[8]
  • 29 May 2012: Death threat via flyer against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano, María Ravelo Grimaldo, Wilfran Cadena Granado and María Calderón Rangel, members of CREDHOS.[9]
  • 3 August 2012: Text message death threat against Abelardo Sanchez Serrano and other members of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) by a paramilitary group calling itself Los Botalones.[10]
  • 2 October 2012: Text message death threat signed by the Rastrojos against Abelardo Sánchez Serrano and other members of CREDHOS, as well as the Cimitarra River Valley Peasant Farmer Association.[11]
  • 3 March 2013: Colonel Fernando Mendez of the National Police of the Magdalena Medio region disarmed the bodyguard (part of the security detail granted by the National Protection Unit) assigned to Maria Ravelo (CREDHOS), and made accusations against Ms. Ravelo.[12]
  • 14 May 2013: Pamphlet containing a death threat signed by the Anti-Restitution Army of Magdalena Medio against María Ravelo, board member of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights. The pamphlet states: “You have 24 hours to leave the city. This time we will not have mercy on any of you or your children.”[13]
  • 14 May 2013: Pamphlet containing a death threat signed by “Los Botalones” against María Ravelo, member of CREDHOS.[14]

Monitoring and surveillance

  • 12 March 2012: CREDHOS reports to the National Attorney General’s Office the presence of unknown persons in front of the organisation’s headquarters and of the home of María Ravelo. Days later, several members of “The Rastrojos” are captured and one of them is identified as one of the people who has been seen repeatedly in front of CREDHOS.[15]
  • January 2013: Surveillance and photographing of the CREDHOS office and of the car provided as part of CREDHOS’ protection scheme by individuals on motorcycles without license plates.[16]
  • 17 February 2013: Surveillance of Maria Ravelo (CREDHOS) in Barrancabermeja by individuals concealing their faces.[17]
  • 19 February 2013: Unknown individuals attempt to enter the house of María Ravelo (CREDHOS) through the roof.[18]
  • 30 March 2013: Two gunmen keep the home of Maria Ravelo, member of CREDHOS, under surveillance, as reported by the police.[19]

Slander and defamation

  • 14 August 2012: A pamphlet signed by “Rastrojos Urban Command” charges CREDHOS, ASORVIMM and ACVC, as well as other organisations, as political fronts for the guerrilla.[20]
  • 18 August 2012: Another pamphlet signed by “Rastrojos Urban Command” again names CREDHOS, ASORVIMM and ACVC, among other organisations, of having “revolutionary structures.”[21]
  • 30 October 2012: A pamphlet signed by the “Rastrojos” blames David Ravelo Crespo and CREDHOS of having ties with the guerrillas and other illegal groups.[22]

Arrest and baseless prosecution against David Ravelo

  • On 14 September 2010, agents from the Technical Investigation Unit enforced a warrant issued by the National Antiterrorism Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and arrested David Ravelo. He was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and aggravated homicide. These charges are based on the testimony of two demobilised paramilitaries who testified as part of Law 975[23]. After these accusations were first made, Ravelo presented himself voluntarily to the Public Prosecutor no.3 in Barrancabermeja in February 2009 to contend his innocence with his own testimony.
  • On 5 December 2012, the Bucaramanga Specialized Criminal Court announces on its web page the conviction and sentencing of David Ravelo to 220 months in prison.[24] Following this news, several international organizations issue a written statement expressing serious concerns regarding irregularities in the proceedings, including the fact that the prosecutor on the case, Mr. William Gildardo Pacheco Granados, the Inspector’s General Office had opened an investigation in 1993 and in 1994 relieved him of his post in the National Police due to his alleged involvement in a forced disappearance in Armenia (Quindío) in 1991.[25]
  • During the first three months of 2013, PBI has continued to accompany the legal case against human rights defender David Ravelo Crespo. During this period, both David and his lawyer Alirio Uribe of CCAJAR each filed appeal documents. In addition, at a 7 February 2013 press conference it was announced that they would file a criminal complaint filed against the paramilitary Jaimes Mario Mejia, alias ‘The Baker’, for allegedly provide false statements in the trial against David Ravelo. At the conferences it also announced that they will ask the Criminal Chamber of the Superior Court of Santander to annul the case, “for violation of due process, and lack of competence of the investigating prosecutor.”[26]

[1] CREDHOS: Complaint filed with the National Public Prosecutor’s office—Barrancabermeja section, case number 680916000135201000595, 4 June 2010
[2] Corporación Reiniciar: Acción urgente: Grave situación de riesgo del defensor de derechos humanos David Ravelo Crespo y su familia, 28 May 2010
[3] Interview with David Ravelo, 15 July 2010
[4] Ibíd.
[5] Amnesty International: Human Rights defenders life in danger, Abelardo Sánchez Serrano, Amnesty International, 19 January 2012
[6] Amnesty International: Urgent Action: human rights defenders threatened, 6 February 2012
[7] Amnesty International: David Ravelo, son of defender David Ravelo Crespo, receives threatening email message, 6 March 2012
[8] Frontline Defenders: Renewed threats against human rights defender Mr. Abelardo Sanchez Serrano, March 2012
[9] CCAJAR: Death threats against CREDHOS members, 4 June 2012
[10] Frontline Defenders: Colombia: Actualización: nuevas amenazas contra el Sr. Abelardo Sánchez Serrano, defensor de los derechos humanos, y sus colegas de CREDHOS, 7 August 2012
[11] CREDHOS: Acción Urgente, 3 October 2012
[12] CREDHOS: Denuncia Pública, 7 March 2013
[13] MOVICE: Denuncia pública: amenaza contra integrantes de Andas y Movice Magdalena Medio, 17 May 2013
[14] Ibíd.
[15] CREDHOS: Signs of criminal actions to come against members of CREDHOS by paramilitary groups, 7 June 2012.
[16] CREDHOS: Denuncia Pública, 7 March 2013
[17] Ibíd.
[18] Ibíd.
[19] CREDHOS: Complaint filed with the Colombian Public Prosecutor’s Office SMNM internal no. 160513-0192, 16 May 2013
[20] MOVICE: Nuevas amenazas de muerte en Barrancabermeja, 21 August 2012; Nuevas amenazas de muerte contra dirigentes sociales del Magdalena Medio, In: Prensa Rural, 21 August 2012
[21] Ibíd.
[22] Vanguardia Liberal: Concejal Luis E. Velásquez denunció amenazas de muerte, 30 October 2012
[23] Law 975 awards reduced sentences to paramilitaries accused of crimes against humanity in exchange for their confessions and cooperation throughout the judicial process
[24] Vanguardia Liberal: David Ravelo fue condenado a 18 años de prisión por crimen de Núñez Cala, 6 December 2012
[25] CCAJAR: Organizaciones internacionales expresan serias preocupaciones por las irregularidades en el proceso judicial que llevó a la condena de David Ravelo Crespo, defensor de derechos humanos colombiano, 10 December 2012
[26] Vanguardia Liberal: Denunciarán a ‘El Panadero’ por dar falso testimonio en caso Núñez Cala, 8 February 2013

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