11 Aug Communication Training for the Defence of Human Rights in Colombia’s South West
Recognizing and Building Communication Rights
Fundación Desarrollo y Paz (Development and Peace Foundation) is based in Nariño, in south-west Colombia near the border with Ecuador. It is an area of coca production where there has been intense conflict between guerrillas and paramilitaries leading to significant violation of human rights and displacement and impoverishment of communities and families. 100 people who are leaders of local social organisations in Pasto municipality, 50 in Ipiales and 50 in Tumaco were trained in a) programme design and production for community radio; b) information technology for social communication such as creating and editing blogs, websites as a documentation tool and safely using email with a special emphasis on safe and secure cyber activism for human rights defenders; c) theoretical/conceptual categorisation of human rights and international humanitarian principles as defined in international law; and d) design and production of TV documentaries. The trainees decided to form a network to promote citizen communication for social organisations. They are working on making publicly visible the consequences of the conflict on the communities of Nariño, especially on vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, afro-descended people, women and children. Social leadership and citizen participation has increased in the communities. The greater access to information and means of communication are key aspects to the process of empowerment. Understanding of and respect for human rights has increased and the social fabric torn by violence and human rights abuses has been strengthened through better alternative and community communication systems.