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We condemn the physical attack on Cajar’s lawyer, Santiago Salinas Miranda, and the harassment against members of this human rights organization

Bogotá, January 10th, 2024

The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (Cajar) denounces to the public opinion and the national and international community that the organization’s lawyer, Santiago Salinas Miranda, was the victim of a physical attack on Monday, January 8th. The attack was carried out by two women who had harassed other members of this human rights organization in the past.
Santiago Salinas and his wife, Erika Isabel Prieto Jaime, also a human rights defender, were in the Colsubsidio supermarket located at Calle 26 and Carrera 34, close to their home, at 3:10 in the afternoon when they noticed two women talking about them, and pointing at them. Due to the multiple aggressions and threats against life, integrity, and freedom that Erika has suffered, the reaction was to record the situation with her cell phone. Santiago immediately recognized the women and recalled their presence in different institutional spaces of Cajar, prompting scandals and sabotaging. 


“[...] taking into account their background and that there are currently protection measures from the IACHR Court on the Lawyers’ Collective and individual measures on me and my wife before the police, I asked her to record with her cell phone the two women, who reacted violently and began to shout that they knew who I was, they mention the place where my wife worked and precise data of other members of the Cajar. Then, they mentioned my name and that of the Collective, accused us of having hacked their cell phones, and assured us that we all had a complaint in the Attorney General’s Office; they yelled to those present and to the security people to call the police. I started to record after that, and the older lady took the hot coffee she was carrying and threw it at me [...]”, explained the lawyer, who, as a consequence of this event, suffered burns on his chest.  

The younger woman accused Cajar of following them to harm them and several times mentioned that a bomb was going to explode soon without clarifying what she was referring to.  

We highlight that the women repeatedly mentioned the professional Diana Marcela Otavo, indicating that they knew the places where she had previously worked, which would show detailed profiling.

After the incident, the two women tried to flee, which was prevented by the supermarket security, as Erika Prieto requested to wait for the police to arrive. The police led the aggressors to the Teusaquillo CAI to record their personal information and then to the URI of Puente Aranda, where the Cajar’s lawyer filed a complaint and informed the authorities he had previously seen his aggressor at a public hearing on business and human rights that took place in the National Congress.

It is worth noting that the Cajar members whom these people have harassed are part of the team of professionals who monitor the interference practices and impacts of some companies in the ultra-processed and sugar-sweetened beverages industry within the framework of the campaign “Dulce Veneno – el antídoto es la verdad” (Sweet Poison - truth is the antidote), as well as processes of socio-environmental impacts in the territories by transnational companies.


    1. The women attended an event on human rights and business in March 2023, where they asked for Yessika Hoyos, a lawyer from Cajar’s Board of Directors. Without being consulted, they pointed out to her that they were being surveilled and had taken a course at Brigada XIII, among other nonsensical topics. That very day, they approached Diana Marcela Otavo and intimidatingly talked to her about assassinated and disappeared women in Colombia. They also harassed Paz Gaviria, communicator of the Dulce Veneno project, who was followed around the forum and the Congress; they would sit next to her and provoke conversation, asking about her workplace and occupation.
    2. In the second part of the event, in the afternoon, one of the women rebuked one of the international guests, interrupting the forum to demand that the guest repeat their name and the organization they represented. Once the discussion was over, Yessika Hoyos and Diana Otavo checked that the auditorium was empty. When they left with the same international guest who was scolded, they noticed that the women were outside and followed them for several blocks.
    3. The following day, the women went to the public hearing in Congress, where they asked for “Rosita,” as in the attorney Rosa María Mateus, member of the Cajar’s Board of Directors and coordinator of the work axis for the Defense of Territory and the Fight Against the Climate Crisis, who they talked to, in an intimidating manner, about environmental leaders at risk. The women tried to sabotage the event, so the police removed them from the premises.
    4. In other circumstances, the then coordinator of the Cajar Press Office was on vacation in La Vega, Cundinamarca, and while having lunch in the central park, noticed the two women getting out of a car with an older man. She immediately identified them as the same women who had been harassing and asking questions to several people at a forum on industry interference.




 5. In addition, Diana Marcela Otavo, member of Cajar and communications coordinator for the Dulce Veneno project, reported on September 1st, 2023, that after leaving a broadcast on the Cablenoticias channel, she identified she was being followed. She sought refuge at the headquarters of former congressman Gustavo Bolívar, right in front of the channel. Upon entering, she realized that it was the same two women who had repeated the intimidating behavior.
In light of this, we request the Colombian State to take the necessary measures to guarantee the security and personal integrity of the lawyer Santiago Salinas Miranda and his wife Erika Prieto, as well as Diana Otavo, and the members of Cajar whom these women have also harassed.
Likewise, we demand that the Attorney General’s Office conduct a comprehensive investigation to clarify these events and their motives, identify all those responsible, and apply the appropriate sanctions. The country must provide adequate guarantees to human rights defenders so that they can carry out their work.

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