FCSPP: 2012 – 2013

Over the years, the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners (FCSPP) has denounced threats, harassment, and surveillance[1] as well the killings of various members.[2] Among the most severe attacks against FCSPP between 2012 and 2013, the following are worthy of note:

Threats and acts of aggression

  • February 2012: In the days prior to the 6 March 2012 mobilisation—an annual event in commemoration of the National and International Day for Victims of State Crimes—members of FCSPP received threatening pamphlets in the name of “Rastrojos Urban Command” and “Black Eagles Capitol Block.”[3]
  • March 2012: News outlets published that alleged paramilitary group “Los Rastrojos” had raised 200 million Colombia pesos (120,000 US dollars) to hire someone to assassinate Jose Humberto Torres.[4]  In Barranquilla (Atlántico), Torres has represented victims in cases against the Northern Block of the AUC including the recent case in which ex-Paramilitary leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Uber Banquez were convicted for killing Aury Sara Marrugo, then president of the Oil Workers Union (USO) in Cartagena, in December 2001.[4]
  • April 2012: During a hearing before the 11th Criminal Court Special Circuit in Bogota, witness Elver Ovidio Neira Bello—who is linked to the judicial proceedings for the killing of unionist Luciano Romero—accused Leonardo Jaimes Marin of FCSPP Bucaramanga of alleged criminal conduct and disciplinary infractions.[5]
  • July 2012: 13 human rights defenders and Colombian politicians were declared military targets by the “Army Against Land Restitution.” Among those threatened were Franklin Castañeda and Jose Humberto Torres of FCSPP.[6]
  • 10 October 2012:  Email threat signed by the Anti-Restitution Army, declaring Caroline Rubio, member of FCSPP, as military targets.[7]
  • 13 October 2012:  Email threat signed by the Urban Command of the Anti-Restitution Army against more than 20 organizations and individuals, among them the FCSPP.[8]
  • 13 November 2012:  Email death threat signed by the Capital Block of the Águilas Negras against different human rights defenders and organizations, among them: the FCSPP.[9]
  • 1 April 2013: Large-scale threat issued by “Los Rastrojos” to various organizations and human rights defenders, including the lawyer for FCSPP, José Humberto Torres.[10]
  • 10 April 2013: Death threat via text message signed by “Los Rastrojos” against Marta Giraldo (MOVICE Valle del Cauca) and Walter Agredo (FCSPP Valle del Cauca).[11]

Monitoring and surveillance

  • 4 June 2013: Surveillance and monitoring of Leonardo Jaimes Marín, member of FCSPP, by a truck registered in the name of oil palm producer Juan Manuel Fernández de Castro.[12]
  • 7 June 2013: An employee of Juan Manuel Fernández de Castro takes photos of the vehicle issued to protect Leonardo Jaimes Marín and its members from a tree beside the road between Pitalito and Curumaní.[13]

Slander and defamation

  • 19 July 2012: Prior to the Cocuy Social and Environmental Forum, a pamphlet is distributed that accuses the organisations sponsoring the event—among them FCSPP—as “guerrillas in disguise.”[14]

Information theft

  • August 2012: The offices of FCSPP in Bogota and Barranquilla (Atlántico) denounce information-based attacks in which spy software was installed, a hard drive was stolen, and email accounts were hacked.[15]

Baseless prosecutions

Carolina Rubio

  • Accused of rebellion in November 2010.
  • Case closed due to a lack of evidence in July 2011.
  • Charges based on the testimony of demobilised guerrilla combatants.

Carolina Rubio is a social communications specialist and member of the Committee in Solidary with Political Prisoners (FCSPP) since 2001.  She is responsible for the Santander Chapter of the Committee.  She was eight months pregnant when she was detained on 16 November 2010, accused of the crime of rebellion.  The 5th District Prosecutor’s Office, a support unit for the Prosecutor General’s office, alleged that Rubio belonged to the 24th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) based on events that allegedly occurred in 2002 and 2005.[16] After two days of detention, the prosecutor’s office granted the benefit of house arrest due to the advanced stage of her pregnancy.[17] The investigation of her continued until 27 July 2011, when Prosecutor’s Office 87 of the National Human Rights Unit declared that there was insufficient proof to initiate a trial and the charges were based on the testimony of two witnesses that lacked credibility.[18]

In a declaration regarding the Rubio case, the United Nations (UN) expressed concern about the use of witness testimony from demobilised members of illegal groups as the sole basis for opening judicial proceedings because of the benefits received for participating in these judicial proceedings. The UN also considered that her detention and the allegations made against her could have been linked to her “peaceful and legitimate activities in the promotion and defence of human rights.”[19]

Carolina Rubio states: “Many of us in the Committee are aware that at some point something like this might happen to us…I believe the case was especially significant because I was so many months pregnant.”[20]

Príncipe Gabriel González

  • Initially detained from January 2006 to April 2007.
  • Accused of rebellion.
  • Sentenced to seven years, incarcerated in the Pamplona prison (Northern Santander)

Principe Gabriel González was the Coordinator for the Santander Chapter of the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners.  In January 2006, he was accused of rebellion and arrested.[21] In its 2007 Human Rights Report, the United States Department of State highlighted the concern of the Colombian social movement that the judicial proceeding against Gonzalez could be simply Colombian government harassment.[22]

In addition, the UN expressed its fear that these events could be related to González’s activities in defence of human rights and emphasized his precarious security situation given the stigmatisation of him as a guerrilla member which could result in being the target of reprisals carried out by paramilitary groups.[23] The concerns expressed by the UN were accurate—throughout the judicial proceedings and his detention, he received various threats from paramilitaries.[24]

González spent 15 months in the Modelo jail in Bucaramanga (Santander) in protective custody until a judge from the 8th circuit in Bucaramanga withdrew the charges against him on 30 March 2007, siting irregularities in the process including the use of demobilised guerrilla testimony to initiate criminal proceedings.[25]  The judge stated “the first thing that should be taken into account is that the testimony of demobilised subversives is suspicious.  It should be looked at sceptically and with much care because [this testimony] does not come from impartial people, but from interested parties who can obtain benefits that are offered through the reincorporation program.”[26]

The Controller General (Procuraduria) appealed the Court’s decision and in 2009 Gonzalez was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Bucaramanga Superior Court.[27]  In December 2010, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal despite, according to Frontline Defenders “existing evidence that the prosecutor’s case was supported by the false accusations of two witnesses.”[28] Gonzalez left the country to avoid serving the sentence because he considered himself innocent of the charges.[29]  In August 2011, police detained Gonzalez while he was visiting his mother in Pamplona (Northern Santander).  Since then, he has been serving out his sentence.

The UN recognizes the González case as an emblematic example of the way in which testimony obtained for benefit or under duress has been used to accuse and condemn human rights defenders.[30]


[1] For example in April 2006, FCSPP denounced that Franklin Castañeda had been harassed and followed by three unknown men.  FCSPP Atlantic: Public denouncement, 25 April 2006
[2] Alirio de Jesús Pedraza Becerra was a member of FCSPP for more than eight years and in his capacity as a lawyer had brought forward various cases against the Colombian State in which diverse members of the Armed Forces were deemed responsible for human rights violations.  He disappeared in 1990. The lawyer Javier Barriga Vergel, member of FCSPP, was killed in 1995. In 1999, Julio Ernesto González y Everardo de Jesús Puerta were killed, both were members of FCSPP.
[3] National Movement for Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE): Ccajar y el Movice denuncian ante la comunidad nacional e internacional amenazas en el marco de la movilización de marzo 6 de 2012, 29 February 2012
[4] José Humberto Torres, una cabeza con precio. In: El Espectador, 15 March 2012
[5] Derecho del Pueblo: Informante del DAS vinculado en homicidio de Luciano Romero Molina pretende enlodar el nombre del defensor de Derechos Humanos, 12 April 2012; Sinaltrainal: Señalamientos irresponsables contra el Dr. Leonardo Jaimes Marín, 5 May 2012
[6] Observatorio para la protección de los defensores de derechos humanos: Amenazas de muerte en Colombia, 5 July 2012
[7] Corporación Compromiso: La Corporación Compromiso rechaza amenaza. 16 October 2012.
[8] MOVICE: Amenaza del “ejército antirestitución de tierras” en contra de la Coordinación Nacional de Desplazados, 18 October 2012.
[9] CIJP: Persisten amenazas contra organizaciones sociales y periodistas, 14 November 2012.
[10] Central Unitaria de Trabajadores: “El grupo paramilitar los rastrojos amenazan a organizaciones sindicales, defensoras de los derechos humanos y parlamentarios de los partidos de oposición”, 4 April 2013.
[11] FCSPP, MOVICE and Sintraunicol: Urgent Action: “Nuevo mensaje amenazante contra organizaciones sociales y de derechos humanos de Colombia”, 12 April 2013.
[12] FCSPP: “Personería de Curumaní y Ejército hacen presencia en asentamiento de la comunidad retornada a la vereda de Pitalito y preocupante acto de seguimiento a defensores de derechos humanos acompañantes”, 4 June
[13] FCSPP: “Aumenta la persecución de Fernández de Castro del Castillo contra la comunidad de la vereda Pitalito y sus acompañantes”, 7 June 2013. For more on Pitalito, please see PBI Colombia, “1305 Pitalito Case Study”, March 2013.
[14] FCSPP: Amenazas y señalamientos contra foro ambiental humanitario en la sierra Nevada del Cocuy – Boyacá, 20 July 2012
[15] CCAJAR: Ataques y amenazas contra la Fundación Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos, 27 August 2012
[16] International Human Rights Federation (FIDH): Privación de la libertad de la Sra. Carolina Rubio/temor por su integridad física y psicológica, 18 November 2010
[17] Interview with Carolina Rubio, June 2012
[18] Ibíd.
[19] United Nations: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, A/HRC/16/44/Add.1, 28 February 2011
[20] PBI Colombia: Interview with Carolina Rubio, June 2012
[21] Frontline Defenders: Colombia: el Sr. Príncipe Gabriel González Arango, defensor de los derechos humanos, arrestado para hacerle cumplir siete años de prisión por acusaciones fabricadas, 1 September 2011
[22] Bureau on Democracy, Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State: 2007 – Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-Colombia, 11 March 2008
[23] United Nations: Report submitted by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, A/HRC/7/28/Add.1, 3 March 2008
[24] Semana: En manos de la Corte caso emblemático de defensor de derechos humanos, 4 June 2009
[25] Human Rights First: Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia: In the Dock and Under the Gun. February 2009
[26] En manos de la Corte caso emblemático de defensor de derechos humanos, In: Semana, 4 June 2009
[27] Op. cit. Frontline Defenders
[28] Ibíd. Frontline Defenders
[29] Colombian Justice vs. Human Rights, In: LA Times, 21 January 2010
[30] United Nations: Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development, Mission to Colombia, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, Margaret Sekaggya,  A/HRC/13/22/Add.3

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