Landmark ruling finds Colombia responsible for persecution of human rights lawyers

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Colombian government violated the rights of lawyers at risk in Colombia.*

This historic ruling, formally read out by the court in March, has declared the Colombian state responsible for the systemic persecution of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR) for their human rights work.**

The court held that the Colombian government had violated numerous rights, including the right to life, personal integrity, private life, freedom of expression and association.

In July 2022, the Law Society submitted a brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to highlight our concerns regarding the ability of lawyers to practise their profession freely as important actors in sustaining the rule of law.***

Law Society of England and Wales chief executive Ian Jeffery said: “We welcome this landmark decision, which identifies the Colombian government as responsible for the persistent mistreatment of lawyers and human rights defenders in Colombia.

“Lawyers should not be targeted or harassed due to the nature of their work. This undermines the rule of law and erodes access to justice.

“This historic ruling marks the first time the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a decision recognising the international responsibility of a state for violating the right to defend human rights.

“The international legal community must hold states accountable for failing to comply with international norms and stand in solidarity with lawyers who risk their lives to defend the profession.

“We urge the Colombian government to adhere to the court’s reparation measures, including treatment for victims who request it and a public apology.”

Notes to editors

Read the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling

**The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective (CAJAR) is a non-profit non-governmental organisation that defends human rights in Colombia. Find out more about CAJAR

***Read our amicus curiae brief under ‘July 2022’ on our Lawyers at Risk page.

About the Law Society 

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Press office contact: Shanzeh Haque | 020 8049 4138

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