Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights
The Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) is an autonomous non-governmental organisation comprised of citizens of the Magdalena Medio region who represent distinct sectors of civil society. CREDHOS was founded in 1987 to promote, defend, and protect human rights, democracy, and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The organisation has several objectives, among them to promote mutual understanding, tolerance, and a peaceful coexistence dedicated to supporting the civilian population and vulnerable sectors of society.
“There have been many deaths and forced disappearances in Barrancabermeja and the Magdalena Medio region. CREDHOS accompanies the families of victims in order to seek compensation for damages, continue in their search for the truth, and see that justice is done”. David Ravelo Crespo
The History of CREDHOS
CREDHOS Was founded in Barrancabermeja in 1987. According to CREDHOS, the organisation arose as a civilian alternative based on the principles of right to life and dignity. Its goal is to act as an antithesis to the systematic violation of human rights, the dissolution and conditioning of institutional democratic spaces for citizens, and constant IHL infractions committed by armed groups participating in the conflict. CREDHOS has publicly denounced harassment and threats against them since their organisation began.
“The decade from 1986 to 1996 was extremely hard in the Magdalena Medio, in particular between 1987 and 1992, when the Navy unit 007 began an intelligence network that acted in coordination with civilian assassins and the Nueva Granada battalion. They were known as the ‘death squads’. This ‘dark period’ began with the assassination of Leonardo Posada Pedraza in 1986. He represented the Patriotic Union party in the Lower House of Congress. CREDHOS formed in this context in 1987. The organisation’s goal was to uncover the parties implicated in this criminal network, and this work carried with it a terrible price. CREDHOS lost seven of its members between 1991 and 1992 and almost all of its directors had to flee the city and sometimes even the country”. Francisco Campo, former member of CREDHOS
The paramilitary takeover of Barrancabermeja began between December 2000 and January 2001 and caused an exodus of CREDHOS members that continued until March 2005, culminating with the exile of former president of CREDHOS Pablo Arenales and several other members of the organisation. As a result of these displacements, CREDHOS had to form a new board of directors in order to maintain organisational stability.
David Ravelo Crespo is an economist, human rights defender and founding member of CREDHOS. In December 2012 he was condemned to more than 18 years in prison. According to Alirio Uribe, the irregularities in the process have undermined the defence of David Ravelo and the legitimacy of the subsequent verdict.
The Work of CREDHOS
CREDHOS is based in Barrancabermeja (Santander) and works in the region of the Magdalena Medio. The organisation provides assistance to the local population and other social organisations in the following areas:
- Training teams of people dedicated to promoting human rights and economic, social and cultural rights, IHL, peaceful conflict resolution, democracy, and mechanisms for civilian participation.
- Researching human rights violations and IHL infractions by armed actors in the conflict.
- Encouraging the lodging of public complaints with relevant authorities at the local, national, and international levels to report human rights violations and IHL infractions. This in addition to monitoring these complaints and ensuring they are processed correctly.
- Documenting cases of human rights violations to be presented before public opinion at the national and international level.
- Providing legal and technical assistance to victims of human rights violations.
- Publishing reports on the human rights situation in the region. The magazine Enfoque Humanitario is published twice a year and the bulletin CREDHOS Opina is published monthly. CREDHOS also has a television program and a radio show.
- Participating in coordination roundtables at the local, national, and international level such as the Alliance post London or the Colombia Europe United States Coordination (CCEEU).
- Touring in Colombia and abroad to highlight the human rights and IHL situation and to form alliances.
- Constructing solidarity networks at the regional, national, and international level with organisations of human rights defenders, governments, and the international community. CREDHOS believes that these relationships will aid in the creation of a new social order based on a peaceful, egalitarian, and just society.
Threats against CREHDOS
The CREDHOS Board of Directors was awarded precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in 2000.
In 2009, the Municipal Council of Barrancabermeja, the Mayor of Barrancabermeja and the Department Assembly of Santander publicly recognised CREDHOS for their work.
The Dioceses of Barrancabermeja presented the San Pedro Claver award to David Ravelo and CREDHOS in recognition of their work.
PBI has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994.
 “Hoy como ayer, persistiendo por la vida y la dignidad”, CREDHOS, 2007; “Video institucional”, CREDHOS, 2008
 Interview with the Secretary General of CREDHOS, David Ravelo Crespo, 15 July 2010
 This is an initiative that aims to cultivate and promote dialogue between civil society, the Colombian government, and the international community on the subjects of international aid, human rights, and peace in Colombia. The London Declaration of 10 July 2003 became a point of reference for relationships between government, civil society, and the international community. “De Londres a Cartagena a Bogotá – Estrategia de corporación internacional en Colombia”, UNDP, November 2007
 Francisco Campo is a political activist who worked from 1987 to 2004 in CREDHOS and currently is a member of the organisation Nation Corporation in Barrancabermeja. The full interview with Francisco Campo can be found in: “Looking for support”, PBI Colombia, October 2009
 The Mayor’s office also recognised the organisation’s work in 2008.