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  • Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership Bids Farewell to Clinical Coordinator, Diana Quintero

    Diana Photo.pngIn June the Human Rights Program and our many partners at the University of Minnesota and in Antioquia that comprise our Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership (or "Alianza") bid farewell to our esteemed Clinical Coordinator, Diana Patricia Quintero. Diana was deeply engaged with the development of the Alianza starting in October of 2012 and has been a key contributor ever since. Her efforts on the project focused mainly on enhancing the capacity for human rights legal clinical work at the four Antioquia schools engaged in the Partnership. In particular, she focused on providing the schools with resources and support to advance methodology and pedagogy in the areas of strategic litigation on behalf of vulnerable communities, individual case acceptance and advocacy, and community outreach and education on behalf of vulnerable populations.

    Thanks in large part to Diana's leadership, the Alianza experienced tremendous success in its first two years. From the offset, Diana played a key role in build trusting relationships between and among our partner institutions in Antioquia. She oversaw the development of a new Human Rights Legal Clinic at the Universidad Catolica de Oriente and helped facilitate the construction of an academic network in Antioquia which now holds weekly meetings to discuss collaboration, strategy, and methods as they relate to human rights education. Additionally, she orchestrated important collaborations on case work between the University of Minnesota and our partners in Antioquia, including on the La Picacha case - which addressed the needs of an economically disadvantaged community in Medellín faced with displacement due to environmental challenges - and advocacy before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding the myriad of human rights issues facing children in Antioquia and Colombia more broadly. Finally, Diana engaged directly in educating Antioquia law students by leading courses and workshops on human rights subjects and building an online library of Spanish-language materials for human rights research and education.

    Diana's passion, ambition, and relentless optimism and will be sorely missed by members of the Minnesota and Antioquia human rights communities. We wish her the very best as she returns to her hometown of Cali, Colombia where she will continue to do human rights work as a professor in the School of Law & Social Sciences at Universidad ICESI.

    Written by Claire Leslie Johnson
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  • UMN Develops Spanish-Language Resources for Online Human Rights Library

    umsmlogo.gifVisit the online library.

    Over the course of this past year, the Minnesota-Antioquia Human Rights Partnership has working to develop access to Spanish-language materials through the Online Human Rights Library. The online library is a great way for the partnership to share information pertinent to Colombia, human rights issues, vulnerable groups, human rights institutions, among humanitarian law, and among other important topics, in a very user-friendly way.
    Under the Colombia category, the website is designed for people to familiarize themselves with the Colombian partners involved in the project; accordingly, the webpage includes a country profile, the Colombian Constitution, and the International Human Rights treaties that Colombia has ratified. The vulnerable groups section offers information on children, internally displaced people, people living with disabilities, women, elderly, indigenous populations, and populations at environmental risk.

    The partnership works to provide materials online both in Spanish and in English, in order to increase opportunity and accessibility to this information, a particularly important goal of the project in that it facilitates dialogue, participation, and inclusion across its various other initiatives. In total, approximately 3,040 Spanish-language materials have been made available in the UMN Human Rights Library to both the University of Minnesota and Antioquia law school students and faculty. Through these efforts, this library has become a great resource for both the U of M and our Colombian counterparts. We hope to continuously add to this bank of information, and wish it to be a sustained reservoir of knowledge following the project's conclusion. Check out the online library

    Written by Isabella Salomão Nascimento
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  • Students in Antioquia and Minnesota Collaborate on Community-Based Clinical Cases

    la picacha.pngOne of the major accomplishments of the UMN - Antioquia Human Rights Law Partnership thus far has been the work done in regards to the joint clinical cases that both the Colombian universities and the University of Minnesota have been working on, in particular the ongoing case of La Picacha.

    Within the country of Colombia, the state of Antioquia, and the city of Medellin, La Picacha is a very large river, which since 2011 has flooded annually, leaving the city residents of Medellin at great risk, particularly in the neighborhoods of Altarista, Belén, and Laureles-Estadio.

    The cooperative clinical case undertaken by the partners included in the project aims to raise awareness to the problem occurring in the communities effected by the flooding, as well as object to a mandate court order, which will be explained in further detail later in this piece.

    Known as "La Quebrada La Picacha" [roughly translating to the "Broken" La Picacha], the river flooding and subsequent inappropriate action taken by the Colombian government has violated their international responsibilities in the treaties that they are party to, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the International Convention to Eliminate all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

    On August 2, 2013, the Medellin Oral Administration Court Twenty-Four ordered the arrangement and advancement of "the evacuation of homes and infrastructure in general at high risk and the associated relocation and all measures it deems necessary...to effectively avert the imminent danger that threatens the inhabitants of the areas identified." However, this court decision was issued without any dialogue with the "inhabitants" of those high-risk areas. By excluding the community members from a negotiation, or even a conversation, the court decided that the best option for the people of Medellin would be to uproot them from their homes and relocate them to another region of the city. This decision has proven to be misguided, and has thus led to much resistance among the residents effected by the flooding.

    Unfortunately, Medellin is heavily overrun by gangs, each of which controls separate regions of the city, and relocating a gang into a territory of another potential rival gang could even further endanger the lives of the inhabitants. Moreover, under international legal standards, the government must supply equal quality or better housing and access to education as was provided in a person's previous place of residence, making the task increasingly difficult for the Municipality of Medellin. However, despite the challenge this presents for Medellin, all of these things could have been remedied provided the city government had initially taken the proper technologically preventative measures against the flooding of La Picacha or had spoken with the residents of the affected areas.

    Therefore, the clinics have taken up a popular action against the Municipality of Medellin, demanding that the government recognize the community's right to security and disaster prevention, the right to a healthy environment, the right to a balanced ecology, and the management and rational use of natural resources. When the clinical cases first brought the La Picacha issue to attention, there had already been a couple of solutions proposed. First, the construction of parallel roads to La Picacha was suggested, and second, the construction of a linear park alongside La Picacha. Neither of these proposed remedies, though not entirely sufficient to improve the situation, have manifested into any concrete action being taken. As of now, the only enacted remedy has been the case of forced evictions, and the people of Medellin have clearly objected to this option. Hopefully, the city residents and the government will soon sit down and collaborate on a possible solution to the continuous threat that is La Picacha. But until then, the clinical students of both the Colombian universities and the University of Minnesota will be working at increasing public awareness of the problem and letting the government know that their actions neither go unnoticed nor lack repercussions.

    Written by Isabella Salomão Nascimento
    (Continue Reading)

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