Protecting Colombia's Child Soldiers

AdresDomplein 3
naarInstituto Cervantes Utrecht
ProvincieUtrecht (UT)

Colombia has suffered from an armed conflict for more than 50 years. An estimated 220.000 people have been killed, and 5 million displaced. In November 2017 the Colombian government reached a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas. However, in Colombia the situation for civil society organizations and human rights defenders remains challenging, and often dangerous. The effects on human rights defenders in Colombia are manifested in various ways, one of which is to link people from social and human rights organizations to criminal acts or “terrorism”. They are illegally arrested, the arrests are carried out without a court order. Human rights defenders are accused of acts they have not committed, false witnesses are used, and media profiles of allegedly “terrorist” are manufactured.
Vilma is the Director and Legal Representative of an organisation that promotes and defends children’s rights. The priority issues of the organisation are juvenile justice, children in armed conflict and peace building, rights of indigenous girls and women and violence against children. The organisations works mostly in high-risk conflict areas of the country. Vilma is recognized for her critical stand against the current children’s rights policy in Colombia. She was leading the creation of a national civil society platform established with the mission to promote and protect the rights of boys and girls affected by the armed conflict in Colombia. The organisation of Vilma is being persecuted and intimidated through interceptions of cell phones, computers and persons being followed.
This generates situations of fear and panic. It has also led to stigmatization of the organization. Several funds have been frozen, which has put the future of the organization in danger.

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