Medellín, September 9th, 2022 — To commemorate national Human Rights Day, ABA ROLI’s Colombia Project, Conectando Caminos por los Derechos (CCD), hosted a deeply emotional award ceremony for defenders and advocates of migrants’ human rights. The awards were the result of collective efforts of organizations from the consortium of the USAID-funded program, namely Pact, ABA ROLI, Freedom House, and Internews, as well as key local partners: The Institute for Race, Equality and Human Rights, representing civil society organizations; the University of the Andes’ Center for Migration Studies representing academia; the League Against Silence, and El Espectador, representing the press and journalists. Also, for the second edition, the USAID program Justicia Inclusiva joined the initiative as a key partner.
The Walking Towards Justice Awards praise and highlight the relentless work of community leaders, human rights defenders, civil society organizations, journalists, and public officials in protecting human rights and guaranteeing access to justice for the migrant population in Colombia. These awards are the first in Colombia to celebrate the defense of human rights and access to justice for migrants while, simultaneously, gathering the civil society, judicial actors, and academic sectors.
The call for nominations began on July 25, 2022, and was promoted on social networks (including ABA ROLI’s Facebook and Twitter pages), the radio, and television at national and local levels. Dozens of nominations from all over the country were received for the awards’ five categories. To receive and review the nominations, a technical jury committee was formed, composed of CCD staff members, local partners, and external guests. Each committee established a set of criteria in which to evaluate and vote for nominees and select a winner. During the process, ABA ROLI elaborated on the initial Award’s conceptualization. Also, it contributed to the systematization of the nominations and ceremony logistics. With this second edition, the engagement of ABA ROLI for the protection of human rights in Colombia has gained more visibility.
These awards are the first in Colombia to celebrate the defense of human rights and access to justice for migrants while, simultaneously, gathering the civil society, judicial actors, and academic sectors.
Official video for the Second Edition of the ‘Walking Towards Justice Awards’
The following are the seven winners of the second edition of the 'Walking Towards Justice Awards.'
1. Best Community Leaders
This category celebrated the work of those community leaders who advise, accompany, or represent the interests of migrant and refugee survivors of human rights violations in their struggle to access justice and the full enjoyment of their rights. These awards were presented by Eugene Cooper, Governance, Citizen Security and Economic Integration Lead Venezuela Response and Integration Office (VRIO) of USAID in Colombia. Three local leaders were awarded.
Daianna Reyes, Fundación Alianzas Solidarias (Cali, Valle del Cauca)
Daianna Reyes works with displaced Venezuelan women in Cali, Valle del Cauca. She is recognized for empowering Venezuelan women, single mothers, and lactating women by teaching them how to exercise their rights in Colombia and by fighting against the stigmas faced by Venezuelan women.
Alexander Cardona, Colores de Igualdad (Pasto, Nariño)
Alexander Cardona is a member of the LGBTQ+ and Venezuelan migrant communities. Under his leadership, he seeks to help Venezuelan migrants who also belong to the LGBTQ+ community, as well as migrants who engage in sex work. Alexander’s efforts focus on educating about the Human Rights of migrants and the prevention of human rights violations.
It's cool that there are people that recognize the work we do in the organizations and for the migrants.
Thailer Fiorillo, Fundación De Pana Que Sí (Barranquilla, Atlántico)
Thailer Fiorillo, a Colombo-Venezuelan migrant, works with Venezuelan and Colombian children for community integration and social inclusion, with pregnant and lactating mothers and works to promote the employability of migrants. All these projects are supported by an amazing team of volunteers.
2. Best Institutional Initiative
This category sought to make known the actions of civil servants who, from their respective institutions and agencies, promote access to justice, protection, and the enjoyment of rights for the migrant and refugee population. The award was presented by Stephanie Villaronga, ABA ROLI’s Program Director for Colombia and Peru.
Iliana Curiel, Alejandro Gómez, and Liliana Acevedo from Bogotá's Secretary of Health
The award was received by Iliana Curiel, director of collective health; Alejandro Gómez; District Secretary of Health, and Liliana Acevedo, office advisor of the Secretary of Health. This initiative implemented in Bogotá D.C. aims to guarantee the right to health of the Venezuelan migrant population, for which different strategic actions have been carried out: organization of the response, issuance of administrative acts to organize it, emergency care for the immigrant population, and financial effort.
3. Best Judicial Decision
This category sought to promote a judicial decision that, under the highest national and international norms and standards, responds to human rights violations of the migrant and refugee population. The award was presented by Carolina Moreno, Director of Los Andes University’s Center for Migration Studies.
Dr. Antonio José Lizarazo, Sentencia T-236 of 2021
Sentencia T-236 of 2021, issued by Colombia’s Constitutional Court won this award and it was given to the Magistrate who wrote the judgment: Dr. Antonio José Lizarazo. This decision was the result of the efforts of civil society organizations to protect migrant women’s rights through strategic litigation. In the words of the organization: “This sentence develops standards for the protection of victims of human trafficking from a human rights approach, with a gender and intersectional approach, and in the context of massive migration currently generated by the sociopolitical situation in Venezuela. The sentence issues structural orders aimed at improving the protection of victims of trafficking in Colombia and protecting the victim of the specific case. It is a pioneering and unique judgment in the Latin American region.”
We are encouraged by the expectation that this sentence has not only brought justice to a specific case, but also brings clarity about the interpretive elements such as the rights approach, the gender, and intersectional perspective (...) that must be applied to the study of the situation of migrants so that the State and the administration of justice would be up to the human, ethical and legal challenges that we must face as a society.
4. Best Journalism Piece
This category sought to make known the reports and articles that document patterns of human rights violations and the barriers faced by migrants and refugees in attempting to access justice in Colombia. The award was presented by Élber Gutiérrez, General Producer of El Espectador newspaper.
Luisa Fernanda Gómez, Así es migrar y vivir con VIH en Colombia (Gema Media)
Luisa Fernanda Gómez for her reportage titled “Así es migrar y vivir con VIH en Colombia”, published on the website Gema Media, and with the support of Cuestión Pública. This reportage shows the systematic barriers that the Venezuelan migrant population face when accessing health services and medications to treat HIV. It is evidenced how the only resource they must be treated to is to go to international cooperation agencies.
5. Best Report or Publication
This category sought to make known the articles, publications, and reports that, through academic and scientific research, analyze the achievements, challenges, and barriers in accessing justice for the migrant and refugee population. The award was presented by Maria Fernanda Escobar, a representative in Colombia for the Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights.
Marco Alberto Romero Silva, Boletín Especial 96 CODHES informa: situación de DDHH de la población refugiada y migrante venezolana en Colombia (CODHES report)
CODHES, which stands for Consultoría para los derechos humanos y el desplazamiento or Consultancy for Human Rights and Forced Displacement in English, won for its report “Boletín Especial 96 CODHES informa: situación de DDHH de la población refugiada y migrante venezolana en Colombia.” The report addresses the impact of violence on Venezuelan population in Colombia and presents a series of recommendations aimed at institutions and other actors for prevention, protection and response to this problem. The award was received by Marco Alberto Romero Silva, CODHES director.
Renowned guests attended the awards ceremony, including Representatives of the Colombian Government and Justice Sector institutions, such as Magistrate Martha Lucía Olano Guzmán of the Superior Council of the Judiciary; Robinson Chaverra Tipton, Delegate Defender for the Rights of the Population in Human Mobility; Deicy Jaramillo Rivera, Specialized Director against Human Rights Violations of the Attorney’s General Office; Santiago Preciado Gallego, Secretary of Social Inclusion, Family and Human Rights of the Mayor's Office of Medellín; and the District’s Personero of Medellín William Yeffer Vivas Lloreda.
The event was streamed online and is available on ABA ROLI & CHR’s YouTube channel. This initiative of USAID, CCD, and its partners commemorate the individual paths towards the goal that justice and respect for human rights be guaranteed for all, irrespective of gender, age, race, sexuality, nationality, and capacity. We hope that these illustrative examples help inspire others to fight for human rights and to support the exemplary work of these leaders in their pursuit of justice.
Ceremony of the Second Edition of the ‘Walking Towards Justice Awards’
Learn more about ABA ROLI’s work across Latin America and the Caribbean.