The laureates shared their hopes for the peace process to end the hate that the conflict created. Peace has not come to their territories and the armed conflict has actually become worse, affecting all communities.
Luz Marina Becerra Panesso shared that, over the years of the conflict in the country, 8.3 million were internally displaced, two million of them from the Afro-descendant community. She also underlined the importance of support from the international community.
“One of the key aspects in the efforts of amplifying our voices as we report on the sad reality that many of our communities experience, lies on the accompaniment and support that we receive from our partners and their networks worldwide,” she said. Panesso, who received the "Defender of the year" award, is the coordinator of the Afro-Colombian Displaced Women in Resistance (Comadre).
Silvano Caicedo Girón, representative of the Major Community Council of the Anchicayá River, shared about how he led a movement that stood up against a hydroelectric project in the Anchicayá river basin, fighting for the respect of their right to live in the territory and for a recognition of the damages caused by an environmental tragedy.
“This tragedy was produced during maintenance on a hydroelectric power station, changing the lives of those who live along the river and causing major harm to the ecosystem,” he said.
Aleida Murillo Gómez, representative of the campaign “Defender la Libertad: Un Asunto de todas/todos” (Defend Freedom: an issue for everyone), which gathers 60 organizations from all over the country, described the complementing role of international partners as “vital.
“We keep compiling evidence and information to the ongoing process of reporting on human rights violations in Colombia,” she said. “The fact that our international partners can take our reports through international advocacy and diplomatic channels can be an effective tool in our efforts to hold the perpetrators legally accountable for their deeds."
Granted by Diakonia and Act Church of Sweden, the National Human Rights Award in Colombia is a distinction that seeks to recognize, highlight, and exalt the work of men, women, initiatives, organizations, and non-governmental organizations that defend human rights in Colombia.
It seeks to back their legitimate work and their contributions to democracy and peacebuilding.
It has reached over 25 of the country’s departments through a public call for nominations and is one of the most important awards on the defense of human rights. Each year, that reach extends to more individuals and organizations with limited protection measures who are stigmatized due to their work.
During the visit to Geneva, the delegation from Colombia met with several UN special rapporteurs and their assistants from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
During these meetings, a range of concerns were addressed. These included the massacres and extrajudicial executions; and 85,000 registered disappearances – also a great proportion from black and Afro-descendent communities; racial justice; violence against women; environmental concerns such as access to clean water and sanitation; and social and cultural rights.