"The communities want the government to listen to what they have to say about a development model that has been sold to us with notions of public benefit and which is closely linked to the historical position of corporations in relation to development." Rosa Maria Mateus
Rosa Maria Mateus Parra is a human rights lawyer and co-ordinator of a collective of lawyers, The José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers' Collective (CCAJAR), working to defend human rights in Colombia. She deals with cases of reparation for victims of state repression and armed conflict and also works with indigenous, peasant and Afro-Colombian communities on collective land rights and protection of the environment.
"The communities have always known that these development models that the national government has dreamt up do not fit with their way of seeing things, with their understanding of the cosmos or with their own intentions." Rosa Maria Mateus
"Both the corporations and the government are ignorant of what the communities are trying to tell them: that this model of development is not good for the country. It’s not good for the people." Rosa Maria Mateus
CCAJAR is a Colombian non-governmental human rights organisation, which aims to contribute to the fight against impunity and the construction of a just and equitable society. The organisation is recognised nationally and internationally for representing emblematic cases of human rights violations in Colombia, both within the Colombian justice system and before the Inter-American System of Human Rights. The high profile nature of the cases it takes on has exposed the organisation to sustained attacks, threats and intimidation since its foundation.
"Since 2016, after the peace deal was signed, we believe social violence has become much more visible and the pattern that can be observed is of those who have always be found in the background: the companies." Rosa Maria Mateus
Silvia Villaseñor, Rosa Maria Mateus, Lilian Borjas and Sandra Alarcón talk about gender based violence and the situation of many women human rights defenders.
In addition to the risks that all human rights defenders face, women are also exposed to or targeted with gender-specific violence, which may include the use and threat of sexual violence, harassment and verbal abuse focused on their gender, the delegitimisation of their work, and threats directed towards their children and families. Their participation in public and political life is often seen to challenge traditional gender roles, leading to hostility from authorities and the general population, who often characterise them as “bad mothers” or “family breakers”.
"The vast majority of those who are defenders are women. It's the women who have had to carry the burden of rebuilding their lives after the conflict" Rosa Maria Mateus