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(Washington, DC) - A group of eight labor and human rights organizations called on the Colombian government today to respect the work of trade unionists and human rights defenders in Colombia and to retract statements that put these workers at risk.

"We seek this action in light of the recent death threat to a lawyer at a prominent human rights organization and the government's repeated statements stigmatizing human rights defenders and union members," the groups said in a statement.

Lina Paola Malagón, an attorney at a human rights organization, the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ), received a death threat signed by the Black Eagles - Capital Bloc on March 2, 2009, citing her work for her organization and on behalf of trade unionists.

Human rights defenders and trade unionists are frequently the targets of threats and violence in Colombia. The problem has been aggravated by the fact that senior government officials continuously stigmatize the work of human rights defenders and unions. 

The groups include: the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; the Latin America Working Group (LAWG); the US Labor Education in the Americas Project (US LEAP); the US Office on Colombia; and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

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