Photo: Martin Ennels

The following is based on a communication written by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and other UN experts. The communication was sent to the Government of Colombia on January 28, 2022, and was recently made public. The communication remained confidential for 60 days, during which time the Government was expected to respond. If a response is received it will be published in the UN database.

This is a shorter version of the original communication.


Topic: Public death threats against human rights defender and CAJAR member, Mr. Alirio Uribe Muñoz, and against several other representatives of the Paro Committee, due to their work in the defense of human rights.

Mr. Alirio Uribe Muñoz is a human rights defender, lawyer and has worked with the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CAJAR) since the mid-1990s. CAJAR is a non-governmental organization, responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in Colombia. Since its creation, CAJAR members and their families have been victims of a series of attacks, acts of intimidation, stigmatization and harassment, and threats. As a lawyer, in recent years Mr. Uribe Muñoz has represented victims of serious human rights violations in criminal proceedings in cases of social protest, human rights defenders and ethnic communities affected by transnational corporations. Mr. Uribe Muñoz currently represents victims of social protest before the ordinary justice system and military criminal jurisdiction. For more than three decades he has suffered threats, harassment and illegal espionage.

In addition, Mr. Uribe Muñoz is a spokesperson for the Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development, a network of more than 60 Colombian organizations working for the defense of Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (DESCA). In this capacity, Mr. Uribe Muñoz was appointed by the network and supported by the other two human rights platforms as delegate of the National Strike Committee, a plural and mixed space formed by trade union, social and indigenous organizations to dialogue with the National Government on the list of demands of different citizen expressions in the framework of the social protests initiated at the end of 2019, demonstrations that were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Special Procedures mandate holders have raised concerns about allegations of threats, harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Colombia in previous communications sent on 6 December 2021 (COL 11/2021), 26 November 2021 (COL 10/2021) and 16 November 2021 (COL 9/2021). However, we regret that no response has been received from the Government of Colombia in relation to these allegations.


Since its formation in 2019, the National Strike Committee has received multiple accusations, harassment and threats against the life and integrity of its members, a situation that was aggravated in 2021 during the period of protests in Colombia, during which multiple threats were directed against congressmen and politicians from alternative and leftist sectors, leaders, peasant leaders and organizations, students and teachers, union activists, journalists, human rights platforms and human rights defenders and other social leaders.

According to the information received, in November 2021, after the call for a new day of national strike and mobilization for November 25, a death threat signed by the paramilitary group “Águilas Negras” was made public against different representatives of the Strike Committee, among them, Mr. Uribe Muño. This is in addition to a series of previous threats against the Paro Committee.

On November 18, 2021, at approximately 8:40 p.m., under the door of an organization, a manila envelope was found containing a pamphlet called “COMUNICADO PUBLICO NOVIEMBRE 2021”, signed by the “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia”. In this text, several human rights defenders, union leaders, and leaders of social processes participating in the National Strike were threatened, branding them as guerrillas, communists, and militiamen. According to the information received, the “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” have stated in the pamphlet that they have decided to: “continue with the actions against those who mimic themselves in organizations of the people, such as trade unions, NGOs, human rights defenders… and the Strike Committee”.

On November 19, 2021, another pamphlet signed by the “Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia” with the same title was made public, threatening several union leaders, politicians, and members of organizations, declaring them military targets for allegedly being part of the urban militias of the FARC, the ELN and the EPL. The communiqué indicates that they will continue their actions against trade unions, NGOs, human rights defenders, and the Paro Committee, among others. The allegations described above demonstrate the risk to which the lawyer and human rights defender, Mr. Uribe Muñoz, is subjected by virtue of his work accompanying social protest actions in Colombia.

It is important to note that the lawyer represents before the administration of justice the families of young people allegedly killed by the National Police in the context of social protest. Regarding the investigations into the threats reported, neither CAJAR nor Mr. Uribe Muñoz have yet received any communication from the Attorney General’s Office.


In the communication we express our deep concern about allegations of death threats against NGOs, trade unions and human rights defenders such as Mr. Alirio Uribe Muñoz, for the work they do in the defense of human rights. We are also concerned about reports we have received of increased threats against human rights defenders in Colombia. This could have a chilling effect on civil society and on the legitimate work of human rights defenders.

Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos
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