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| 10/21/2009 12:00:00 AM

Rights Groups Seek Obama Help to Protect Colombia Human Rights Activists

Oct 21--Human rights groups are urging the Obama administration to work to ensure that Colombia's government protects activists in the country. Rights organizations and Colombian activists told a U.S. congressional panel that the situation in Colombia has deteriorated, with activists facing increasing threats, including physical attacks and assassination.

Kelly Nicholls, Executive Director of the U.S. Office on Colombia, a Washington-based non-government organization, referred to a surge of threats against human rights defenders.

Appearing before the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, she said Colombian government officials have made public statements designed to discredit human rights activists, while threats are virtually never investigated.

The United States, Nicholls says, must send a clear public message of support for human rights defenders. "Senior U.S. Government officials should continue to send a clear public message of support for human rights defenders, condemning any attempts by the Colombian government to stigmatize them," she said.
 
Read more here.
 
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