For more than two years, ProtectDefenders.eu has been providing sustained financial and technical support to the oldest temporary relocation program for human rights defenders in Spain, located in the Principality of Asturias, an autonomous region in the north of the country. Since 2001, the Asturian Program for Assistance to Victims of Violence in Colombia (Programa Asturiano de Atención a Víctimas de la Violencia en Colombia – PAV-DDHH) has been hosting trade unionists and human rights defenders from Colombia for a period of six months. In addition, every year since 2005, the Program conducts a mission to the country, which aims to verify the state of human rights in Colombia and to verify the situation of former beneficiaries of the program after their return.
During their stay in Asturias, the human rights defenders participate in 'citizen diplomacy' and advocacy activities for peace before the Asturian and European institutions; and carry out continuous actions for denouncing, raising awareness and promoting human rights within the Spanish society.
In the current period, the program is welcoming five defenders and social leaders in the city of Gijón:
Nixon Gabriel Robledo, human rights defender who provides accompaniment to the victims of the internal armed conflict as a member of the Standing Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in the department of Chocó.
Juan Antonio Niño, lawyer, human rights defender, secretary of the Social Corporation for Community Counseling and Training – COSPACC, member of the Foundation for the Promotion of Social Justice Javier Alberto Barriga Vergel – FUNJAB. He represents victims of serious human rights violations with responsibility of the public force in the department of Casanare, including cases of extrajudicial executions committed by the National Army.
María del Carmen Mayuso, woman human rights defender, founder, survivor and activist of the Patriotic Union movement. For her work of social and political opposition to the privatization of the right to health, she has been the victim of accusations, stigmatization and abusive use of criminal law.
Álvaro Vega, a trade union leader and human rights defender, has been President of the Unitary Central of Workers CUT Sectional Valle del Cauca. In 2013 he was elected member of the National Executive Committee of the CUT and served as Director of Legal Affairs.
Abel Coicue, authority of the Indigenous Reserve of Huellas-Caloto, leader of the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of Northern Cauca -ACIN- and of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia ONIC, is a human rights defender and communicator of the radio station Radio Pa 'Yumat.
The PAV-DDHH is participated and supported by 17 social organizations, including unions, NGOs, solidarity committees and human rights associations. Some have the recognition of the human rights system of the UN and the OAS (Organization of American States). Five of these organizations are in Colombia and make up the Selection Committee. Twelve are in Asturias and make up the Commission of Organizations of Support to the PAV and the people received.
The PAV-DDHH depends on the Asturian Agency for Development Cooperation, is managed by the Soldepaz Pachakuti organization and follows up on the people they receive. In 13 years it has welcomed 90 people, of which 25 were women. According to their profile, 34 were trade unionists, 11 peasant and indigenous leaders and 45 human rights defenders.