A total of 25 MEPs demanded Tuesday that the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, ensures the necessary security measures for journalist Clara Julieta Duque, currently investigating several cases of human rights violations.
In a letter written at the initiative of the European Parliament, MEPs asked the Colombian government to investigate “all acts of intimidation, illegal surveillance and other assaults reported by Claudia Julieta Duque and her family.” Daily El Espectador reports.
In 1999, Duque reported the alleged involvement of agents of the defunct Department of Administrative Security (DAS) for the murder of political satarist and journalist Jaime Garzón in 1999. The investigation led to attacks against being committed against Duque, including kidnapping, threats, assaults, and defamation, the letter outlined. The full letter can be read here.
In addition, in 2012 Duque reported on the president of Colombia and current senator Alvaro Úribe Velez and the former director general of the DAS Jorge Noguera, for crimes of libel and slander. A year before, in 2011, she was recognized by the Colombian justice system as a victim of “psychological torture” perpetrated by agents of the DAS, according to MEPs.
Other members of the DAS have also been “brought to trial”, such as former directors of intelligence Gian Carlo Auque de Silvestri and Enrique Alberto Ariza, and former director of counter intelligence German Rodolfo Medina. These former agents still remain at large, according to the letter.
The letter was also directed at Santos’ Attorney General, Luis Eduardo Montealegre, and members of the Supreme Court, as MEPs claim that these fugitives need to be captured by law and that the accused and the necessary arrangements are made “for their extradition, deportation or international arrest.”
The MEPs also urged Colombia’s institutions to fulfil the commitment made by the Foreign Ministry of Colombia that the country’s government would issue a public statement in support of the struggle for justice made by journalist Claudia Julieta Duque. The statement, set to be released by September 2015, “has not yet been given.”
The letter also expressed MEP’s concerns in relation to “the situation of human rights defenders, whose work is key to building peace and strengthening of democracy in the country.”
Moreover, MEPs congratulated the Colombian authorities for “the significant progress in the peace process that is underway between the Government of Colombia and the FARC guerrillas in Havana” and reiterated their commitment “to contribute to the building a sustainable and lasting peace.”
Due to forced entry into her home and threats made against her and her daughter, Duque had to flee the country.
The journalist and human rights defender received increasing levels of intimidation and harassment at the beginning of her trial in 2015 in her case against former members of the defunct Department of Administrative Security (DAS). Former senior officials of the DAS faced a trial charged with aggravated psychological torture against the human rights defender.
Duque is a journalist and a correspondent for Equipo Nizkor and Radio Nizkor in Colombia. She has reported on human rights violations such as forced disappearances, forced recruitment of children into armed groups as well as cases of killings and impunity.