Luís Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective
The Luís Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective is a non-profit organisation with the objective of bringing law closer to communities and grassroots groups so that it is relevant to those populations’ social, cultural, and political realities. According to CCALCP, their aim is also to encourage the development of a pluralist, tolerant and democratic society which respects human rights and international humanitarian law.
CCALCP is comprised human rights defenders who accompany and provide legal consultation to victims of human rights violations in the regions of the Magdalena Medio and Catatumbo. The organisation also accompanies the Environmental Oversight Civilian Committees of several municipalities in the departments of Santander and Norte de Santander. Additionally, CCALCP accompanies communities and grassroots organising processes in their comprehensive defence of and demand for human rights; the search for truth, justice, comprehensive reparation and guarantees that their rights will not be violated in the future; the defence and protection of biodiversity against mining interests and the present economic model; and the defence of the right to land, territory and self-determination.
CCALCP focuses on the following issues:
- Popular education: Implementation and development of an education programme on politics, human rights, and international humanitarian law.
- Prevention of impunity: Legal counsel and accompaniment, including preparing reports for United Nations Special Rapporteurs.
- Human rights and international humanitarian law: Raising awareness of the problems affecting the region and the social sectors accompanied by CCALCP.
- Defence of biodiversity and collective and environmental rights.
- Strengthening grassroots organising processes in Santander and Norte de Santander with indigenous people, traditional small farmers, and victims of human rights violations.
In Norte de Santander, CCALCP accompanies victims of forced displacement (such as the Association of Displaced People from the Province of Ocaña – ASODEPO), the Coalition to Strengthen Displaced People’s Organisations from Norte de Santander, the Motilón Barí indigenous people, the Association of Small Farmers of Catatumbo (ASCAMCAT), and traditional farming communities from the municipality of Toledo. In the Magdalena Medio, its work has focused on two areas: legal aid (lawsuits and legal defence) and political advocacy. CCALCP also works with the Peasant Farmers’ Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC) and the Magdalena Medio Association of Victims of State Crimes (ASORVIM). In Southern Bolívar, CCALCP accompanies the First Political Education School, a project to defend land rights, carried out by the Guamocó Association of Agro-Ecological and Mining Partnerships (AHERAMIGUA).
CCALCP is a member of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination (CCEEU) and also participates in the Eduardo Umaña Mendoza Colombian Human Rights Lawyers’ Association (ACADEUM) and the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE).
In September 2001, the Luís Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective was established in the city of Bucaramanga to accompany social, labour and grassroots organisations, and internally displaced and vulnerable communities in the region. According to CCALCP, the organisation was founded for two fundamental reasons:
1. The region did not have an organisation specialising in providing social, grassroots, labour and internally displaced populations with legal accompaniment and counsel carried out from a humanist perspective, which was in addition fully dedicated to the defence and protection of human rights.
2. When the organisation was established there was a grave humanitarian crisis in the regions of North-Eastern Colombia and the Magdalena Medio—a crisis that CCALCP believes is even more serious today. In fact, the political, social and armed conflict affecting the population in these areas has led to these regions reporting some of the worst statistics on forced displacement in Colombia. Every year, thousands of families are forcibly displaced from the Magdalena Medio and the region of Catatumbo to nearby cities such as Barrancabermeja, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, and Ocaña. In addition to the internally displaced population, CCALCP also provides assistance and counsel to communities resisting displacement in the midst of the political, social and armed conflict.
According to CCALCP, it should also be taken into account that «a process to persecute, criminalise and criminally investigate grassroots, labour and displaced peoples’ organisations has been implemented in this region. This situation has affected all forms of social protest and brought about massive human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by different armed actors».
CCALCP members do not have protection measures from the Colombia State or international bodies. In this respect, one of the principal protection measures for CCALCP has been the accompaniment provided by Peace Brigades International.
In 2012, the Inter-Agency Dialogue on Colombia (DIAL), which brings together dozens of international Non-Governmental Organisations that work on humanitarian issues and cooperation in Colombia, organised the National Award for the Defence of Human Rights with the aim of creating awareness among civil society of the importance of the work of human rights defence in the country. Judith Maldonado won the prize in the category of “Woman Human Rights Defender.” During the award ceremony, Judith shared with the audience what she has learned over the course of the last eleven years dedicated to the defence of human rights: “I have learned from listening to thousands of victims that were forcibly displaced from their lands…I have learned that there are indigenous communities like the Motilon Bari indigenous people in Catatumbo that resist being cornered, that defend their territory and their culture.”
Peace Brigades International (PBI) has accompanied the Luís Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) since 2006.
 Number of displaced people per receiving municipality in 2009: 4,779 in Barrancabermeja, Santander; 3,556 in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander; and 3,397 in Bucaramanga, Santander. Source: CODHES Informa, Boletín Informativo No. 76, 27 January 2010
 «Informe Comisión de Verificación Extraordinaria en el Catatumbo», CCALCP, March 2010