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Colombia, 11/21/2017

Excmo. Sr. Presidente Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia

Sr. Fiscal General Néstor Humberto Martínez Neira, Attorney General of Colombia

November 21, 2017

Dear Sirs:

We are deeply disturbed to learn of the assassination of Aulio Isarama Forastero, governor of the Embera indigenous reservation Katru Dubaza Ancoso in Alto Baudó, Chocó Department. He was killed on the evening of October 24 after he was intercepted by five armed men who identified themselves to the community as members of the armed rebel group ELN (National Liberation Army). His brother, Jhon Eriberto Isarama Forastero, a teacher also from the Katru Dubaza Ancoso reservation, was reported missing on October 7. His whereabouts are still unknown.

The Chocó Indigenous Roundtable reports that despite the bilateral ceasefire agreement signed on October 1 between the ELN and the Colombian government, “to date measures have still not been taken to guarantee the real and effective protection of the communities.” The killing of Aulio Isarama Forastero is the second killing of an indigenous governor in less than one month. On October 7, Ezquivel Manyoma, leader of Medio Baudó municipality, Chocó Department, was assassinated in the presence of his family and other community members by the paramilitary group AGC (Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia).

The indigenous reservation is in great danger because the armed group has threatened to kill anyone who reported these incidents. Amnesty International has publicly denounced the increase in the number of killings of indigenous leaders, highlighting the shortcomings in the implementation of the peace process. “The situation of extreme risk which indigenous communities in Colombia face is alarming. These crimes highlight one of the main challenges in the implementation of the peace process: the protection of the communities living in the areas which have been most affected by the armed conflict and the need to guarantee that these deplorable acts do not go unpunished.”

Therefore, we strongly urge that you

  • provide a comprehensive state presence in the municipality of Alto Baudó to guarantee the right to life, physical integrity and security of the indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in zones at risk due to the presence of armed groups;
  • provide individual and collective protection measures which guarantee the life and physical integrity of indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders and human rights defenders, in consultation with them and in accordance with their wishes;
  • provide a comprehensive response regarding your government’s plans for protection of indigenous communities who are displaced or at risk of displacement, in compliance with the ruling of Constitutional Court Order 004 of 2009


Brian J. Stefan Szittai and  Christine Stonebraker-Martínez



Camilo Reyes, Ambassador of Colombia to the US ~ via fax: 202.232.8643      

Rebecca Daley, Human Rights Officer, US Embassy in Colombia ~ via email

Ryan Reid, Senior Desk Officer for Colombia, US State Dept ~ via email

Christine Russell, Desk Officer for Colombia-human rights affairs, US State Dept ~ via email

José de Jesús Orozco Hernández, Rapporteur for Colombia, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ~ via email

Amnesty International Urgent Action Network ~ via email

US Senators Brown & Portman

US Representatives Beatty, Fudge, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Kaptur, Latta, Renacci, Ryan  ~ via email