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Colombian Activist Wins Human Rights Award


A U.S. human rights organization has awarded a prize for human rights defenders to Colombian activist Ivan Cepeda.

Human Rights First Tuesday announced the winner of the prize, which is awarded every other year for outstanding work in international human rights.

Cepeda is the founder of a number of organizations that document human rights violations in Colombia. In a statement, the organization said he has demonstrated that paramilitary groups have committed serious human rights violations, often in complicity with members of the Colombian armed forces. It said he has helped in a process that has documented some 40,000 cases of rights violations since 1966.

The statement also said Cepeda has been unfairly targeted by the government for investigations, and has twice had to live in exile because of death threats.

Cepeda's father was Colombian Senator Manuel Cepeda Vargas, who was killed by paramilitaries in 1994.

The prize is known as the Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty, named after the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union and the International League for Human Rights.

Colombia is one of the deadliest places in the world for human rights workers due to its four decades of civil war.

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