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Colombia: UN expert to assess situation of human rights defenders


GENEVA (16 November 2018) – UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst will visit Colombia from 20 November to 3 December to assess the situation of human rights defenders and Government efforts to protect them and enable their work.

“I welcome the invitation of the government of Colombia, this is a timely visit,” said Forst. “I intend to engage in a fair and genuine dialogue with the Government and to offer my advice and assistance to contribute to the development of a comprehensive strategy on prevention and protection for human rights defenders.”

”I look forward to also identifying with human rights defenders the challenges they face, and to hear from them how  the state institutions could increase their protection and support,” he said.

“The question we must ask is this: Are human rights defenders, in Colombia, able to operate in a safe and enabling environment and to promote and protect human rights? The answer is complex and requires assessing the role and challenges faced by defenders in promoting and protecting human rights, in particular in the context of implementation of the 2016 peace agreement.”

The Special Rapporteur will visit Bogotá and other parts of the country. He will meet State officials as well as human rights defenders, journalists, and a broad range of civil society representatives.

He will also meet with representatives of international companies operating in Colombia to identify how business leaders could also increase their efforts and better engage with indigenous people and local communities affected by their operations.

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a news conference on Monday, 3 December 2018 at 11:00 local time, in Bogotá. Access to the news conference is strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present his findings to the 2020 March session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.


Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Mr. Forst has extensive experience of human rights issues and specifically of the situation of human rights defenders. He was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998. He is a former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Colombia www.hchr.org.co

For additional information, please contact: Adriana Zarraluqui +41 79 444 5172 (before/during the dates of the visit) / azarraluqui@ohchr.org)

For media requests and queries relating to the press conference on 3 December please contact, in Bogota, Diana Losada Castaño, Coordinator of the Public Information unit of OHCHR Colombia Office, dlosada@ohchr.org | +57 3212841580

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:Jeremy Laurence (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org

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