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 Basic Information about the International Caravana of Jurists Trip to Colombia

LAWYERS, THE PEACE PROCESS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE

20-28 AUGUST, 2016

Delegation background and methodology

The Colombia Caravana was founded in 2008 after the National Colombian Association of Human Rights Lawyers (ACADEHUM) asked the international legal community to develop and implement an international programme of support for human rights lawyers working in Colombia. The Colombia Caravana UK Lawyers’ Group is now at the centre of an international network of jurists offering support to lawyers and other legal professionals in Colombia.

Since the Caravana was founded in 2008, we have organised four high-level delegations to Colombia, at the request of ACADEHUM, our main partners in the field. The first delegation in August 2008 consisted of 70 lawyers from Europe and the Americas. By September 2014 over 200 delegates had visited Colombia as part of the Caravana.

These trips have proved to be essential opportunities to show concrete support for at-risk Colombian human rights lawyers and other defenders, and to ensure that the Caravana’s ongoing solidarity work after the trip is over is informed, focused and has a clear, well-defined direction. This year, the fifth Caravana will follow up on previous delegations, and will place a particular focus on the current and upcoming challenges for lawyers and other human rights defenders in the context of the Colombian peace agreements.

The purpose of the delegation is:

  • to prevent/reduce threats against lawyers and other defenders and the communities they work with by shining a spotlight on their work and making the Colombian authorities aware of the international concern;
  • to identify and through first-hand accounts and open discussion, gather information on the current challenges facing Colombian human rights lawyers in several regions of the country, with special attention to challenges posed by the transitional justice process.
  • to hold workshops on relevant subjects aiming to share expertise and information.
  • to influence the government by engaging in dialogue with officials from relevant departments and raising ACADEHUM’s concerns, to encourage these departments to take action on them.
  • to use the information gathered to compile a report detailing the findings of the mission and including a series of recommendations for future action on the part of both the Colombian authorities and the international community.
  • to draw up a framework with Colombian lawyers for future collaboration, support and exchange.

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Application process

The Caravana asks all prospective delegates to complete the attached application form, to be assessed by the Board of Directors and the Coordinator. Places are limited, so please make sure you complete the application form and return it by Friday 1st April.

The Caravana will inform you by Friday 15th April as to whether you have a place. We are particularly interested in candidates with knowledge and experience of international human rights issues relevant to Colombia such as land reform or transitional justice / Spanish language skills / organisational skills / members of other organisations where our work can be promoted / fundraising, media or publicity skills / commitment to the Caravana’s work. The survival and effectiveness of the Caravana depends on delegates contributing to our work after the trip, according to their skills and capacity. This could include attending events, writing articles or blogs, publicising our work on social media, helping organise events, fundraising, offering use of an office meeting room, etc.

The Caravana encourages diversity and equal opportunities on our trips. Please be aware that the trip is physically demanding and we have extremely limited capacity to support those with special health needs during the delegation.

Photo 16 - Medellín team

Training and preparation

During the delegation, one of the Caravana’s aims is to foster greater understanding of international legal and human rights issues, and knowledge exchange between cultures. As legal professionals and human rights workers in their own countries, Caravana delegates are fully qualified to participate in the delegation. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that they gain the most from their experience and have as much specific knowledge as possible prior to the trip, delegates are expected to take part in a series of free-of-charge, monthly training seminars in London, beginning in mid-May. This training process will comprise expert talks, reading and exercises, and will finish with a final day’s training course in London (locations and dates to be announced), which offers an opportunity to meet other delegates.

Although we provide some interpretation during the delegation, we strongly recommend that if prospective delegates do not already speak Spanish, they enrol on an intensive course before coming on the trip. We will be fundraising for interpreters but since resources are limited we are keen to increase the proportion of Spanish speakers on this year’s trip. Few Colombians speak English, and this helps to build relationships and ensure the success of the trip.

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Cost of the trip and fundraising

Caravana delegates are self-funded. We estimate that the whole trip will cost each delegate approximately £1,500 (Flight and travel insurance – 800- 1000; Local regional flight in Colombia – 300; Hotel, food and local transport – 400). Please note that costs do fluctuate, depending on exchange rates and flight costs. We will also ask all those accepted for a £25 registration fee to help with the costs of administration.

In the past, some delegates have applied for funding from their place of work or professional body, while others have raised funds through sponsorship via dedicated fundraising pages. You could open your own fundraising page linked to our BT My Donate page (https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/colombiancaravana), and ask your firm, colleagues, friends and family to sponsor you to participate in the delegation. Some groups of delegates have also got together and organised fundraising events such as sponsored walks, sponsored climbs and salsathons, to raise money to participate in the Caravana delegation.

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Contact

If you have any further questions and for an application form, please contact the Colombia Caravana Coordinator, Joanne Hutchinson at colombian.caravana@gmail.com.