News In Focus
Colombian lawyers seek human rights support
29 October 2012
Two Colombian human rights advocates visit the Law Society of Scotland today as part of their efforts to raise international awareness of their work.
Judith Maldonado Mojica and Marcela Castellanos speak at the Society's Edinburgh offices this evening, as representatives of the Colombian lawyers collective, CALCP (Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers Collective), to talk about their work and the impact of armed violence and large scale mining projects on indigenous and small-scale farming communities in their country.
Ms Mojica, recently named Defender of the Year at the Colombian National Awards for the Defence of Human Rights, is one of the founder members of CALCP, which was formed in 2001 in response to massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law norms. For over a decade the group has brought legal access to communities and worked with grass roots organisations to defend human rights through social, legal, educational and political actions. Its members continue to litigate in favour of human rights despite repeated personal attacks and threats as a result of their work.
They will be joined by Mauricio Sanchez, a miner and farmer from the region of Guamacó, which is home to one of the largest gold reserves in Colombia. He has had first-hand experience of the humanitarian crisis caused by armed conflict and particularly by the paramilitary onslaught brought about by the different economic interests in the region, and has promoted the creation of regional humanitarian commissions and the formation of the Guamacó Association of Agro-ecological and Mining Partnerships (AHERAMIGUA), to defend traditional mining rights and the rights of the communities involved.
Austin Lafferty, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "We are delighted to be able to welcome Judith, Marcela and Mauricio to the Society to learn about their work and ongoing efforts to protect the human rights of the people they work with and represent. Each of them, alongside their colleagues, has taken enormous personal risk to continue in their work and it is very humbling to realise that, while we all feel the pressures of work, lawyers in some other parts of the world are working under very different circumstances to those we experience."