Human Rights Defender Fatally Shot in Colombia After Opening Home to Activists
Freedom House is deeply troubled by the reported killing of Colombian activist Luz Neida Gomez Gomez, the treasurer of a local community action council in Vereda Buenos Aires, Colombia. Authorities must conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into her death, and ensure that all steps are taken to hold accountable those responsible for this crime.
Five assailants wearing army uniforms and balaclavas shot Gomez while she was walking down the main highway, which serves the capital, Sierra. The murder occurred just days after civil society groups organized a series of workshops to discuss the impact of transnational mining companies on human rights in the region. She had reportedly opened up her home to out-of-town participants in need of a place to stay. Gomez, whose husband Oscar Diaz survived an attempt on his life in June 2012, had suffered months of harassment as unidentified men extorted money from her and made regular threats against her family.
Colombia is ranked Partly Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2012. Freedom House has noted an increase in violence and attacks, particularly against journalists in Colombia, including the brutal killing of freelance reporter Luis Eduardo Gomez in 2011, and the recent court decision to uphold the prison sentence for criminal libel against Luis Agustin Gonzalez.