Military, Police Trick in Mass Arbitrary Detention in Meta

24 Inhabitants of La Julia Detained

Military, Police Trick in Mass Arbitrary Detention

(Translated by Micheál Ó Tuathail, a CSN Translator)

In the morning hours of last Saturday, 6 August 2006, in La Julia, municipality of Uribe, Meta department, 24 people were captured by means of deception.

Soldiers went from house to house in the small town, inviting the inhabitants to a meeting in which they would tackle community-related issues; to others they announced that they would distribute cattle for collective development. Little by little, the townspeople met in community installations, believing in the credibility of the soldiers¹ authority. "They came to our house and said that they needed a meeting with the entire community to discuss matters that interested us all."

When they arrived at the meeting place, the National Police asked for their identification documents, which the townsfolk readily produced. Minutes later, the police units separated 24 people, whom the authorities maintained needed only to go to La Macarena to make some declarations. Facing the reaction of the inhabitants who demanded an explanation for the separation, one of the uniformed men expressed through a megaphone that they would only be brought to make a declaration before they would be returned again to La Julia. With a lie, they calmed the legitimate reaction of the peasants.

The 24 peasants were transported by helicopter and brought to the SIJIN facilities, without being shown a warrant nor being informed of their legal situation. Only hours later, to their surprise, they were informed of the absurd of the absurd: the Sixth Special Prosecutor of Bogotá had previously proffered a warrant for the presumed crimes of REBELLION and CONSPIRING TO COMMIT A CRIME WITH TERRORIST ENDS.

Those and the inhabitants of La Julia understood the pretensions of the trick. Radio media outlets reported on their neighbours, their long-time friends and acquaintances: "The authorities have captured, in the last hours, 24 presumed FARC fighters, operatives in the municipality of La Uribe, an old refuge of this illegal armed organization, the judicial police stated today" (Š) "According to the statement, the 24 people formed part of a logistical support web for the 40th and 42nd Fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)" [1] <mhtml:mid://00000279/#_ftn1> [1], "According to official sources, the 24 men are members of the 40th Front ŒJacobo Arenas,¹ and they attribute to them various terrorist attacks in the south of the country" [2][2].

As is the norm with mass detention (moreover, deception, unawareness of a legal detention order, and a deprivation of liberty that can be classified as arbitrary), legal validity is founded on false, incoherent, and visibly unsustainable testimonies about the detained, the informers from the 40th and 42nd Fronts, and youths between the ages of 21 and 23, who are not known by the detained nor by the inhabitants of La Julia.

Equally, a judicial police report has appeared that is based only and exclusively on false accusations by youth FARC-EP deserters, testimonies that have not been submitted to the rigour of comparison and logical and sensible examination. In this way, the 24 peasants were singled out, and for them, the difficult task of proving their innocence is only beginning.

During the time in which the public prosecutor and the DIJIN advanced the investigation behind the backs of the 24 peasants, they did not produce a single proof that would be permitted, not even putting in doubt the lying affirmations of the informers.

The 24 inhabitants of La Julia, who today find themselves detained in Bogotá, stunned in amazement, and with the sentiment of an even more delegitimized authority, on the days of the 9th and 10th of August, yielded to the investigation of the prosecutor. There, they all affirmed their identities as civilians without denying that, for many years, the guerrillas have had a presence in the region, unaware that this makes them fighters, or without reiterating that their social labours or leadership does not make them terrorists.

According to church officials, the inhabitants of La Julia, who for 10 years have known the unjustly detained ­ among them two elderly people, bus drivers, farmers, small wage earners and labourers ­, have never been seen carrying arms nor communication radios, wearing military uniforms of any type, charging taxes in the name of the FARC, nor harbouring or transporting arms for the guerrilla, as the young FARC dissenters falsely claimed.

Next, the Special Prosecutor, detached before the DIJIN, ought to resolve the legal situation, defining if he will affect by means of insurance the pre-emptive detention of these persons.

The arbitrary and mass detention of the inhabitants of La Julia is not unlike that of 6000 other Colombians who, in the development of the security policy, have been subject to judicial persecution over the last 4 years.

The modes of conduct of the investigatory entity, such in the assessment of the evidence and in the mechanisms used to effectively enforce the warrants against inhabitants who have committed the sole crime of being social leaders, lenders of services, and inhabiting a conflict zone, contrast with the attitude that is maintained to mask entrenched criminal structures in the State.

We invited you all to urgently direct your communications to:

1. General Prosecutor of the Nation MARIO IGUARAN and to the Sixth Special Prosecutor ALVARO SARMIENTO the Office of International Relations of the General Prosecutor of the Nation (57-1) – 570 20 00 (571) 5702022
Extensions 2003 or 2004. Fax Extensions 2017 or 202

Intervene URGENTLY in order that they guarantee that, given due process, they will release the 24 inhabitants of La Julia due to the failure to apply international standards of legal guarantees in the absence of judicial independence.

2. Attorney General of the Nation, EDGARDO MAYA VILLAZON Tel  (571)
35200 66  /  (571) 3360011 Extension 11522
To intervene immediately in the process so that he confirms the illegality and arbitrary nature of the detentions that have been performed.

3. Vicepresident FRANCISCO SANTOS Tel (571) 33450 77 Fax (571)-566 20 64  / 57- 1 334 18 17 For the illegal and arbitrary detention that occurred in La Julia with the inappropriate conduct of the National Police and the Military Forces.

Bogotá, D.C. August 11 of 2006


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