Human Rights violations by Army increase according to UN

March 15, 2007

Complaints increase about human rights violations by security forces in Colombia, says UN
(Translated by Kevin Funk, a volunteer CSN translator)

Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, from the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The organization affirms that the state forces are killing more civilians every day, and in many cases attempt to present them as guerrillas killed in combat.

The Bogotá office of the United Nations High Commissioner¹s representative presented its annual report this Thursday about abuses in Colombia.

³The Office observed an increase in the number of complaints in respect to 2005,² affirms the report.

³The homicides with a character of extrajudicial execution do not seem to represent isolated incidents, but rather behavior that is prone to becoming widespread,² said the report.

The report signals that an incorrect interpretation of the security policies of President Álvaro Uribe, and the demands of the high command for soldiers to show guerrillas killed in combat, could be the culprits for the ³light increase² in that type of homicide.

The government, through a communiqué about this issue, announced last night that the Ministry of Defense will assume the leadership ³in the defining of policies that (Š) guarantee the protection of human rights,² amongst others.

Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, director of the Colombia office of the High Commissioner, said that although ³problems with human rights still exist, it was able to confirm that next to those critical problems there are growing levels of commitment and political will to implement solutions.¹

The report points out, however, that in the last year the government ignored the links between security forces and illegal armed groups.

Although it indicated an increase in extrajudicial executions, cases of torture, and forced disappearances by paramilitary groups and also the army, the report aligned itself with the government¹s optimistic evaluation with respect to human rights in Colombia.

In a new section of the report the High Commissioner pointed out that the main factor in human rights violations is the civil war that the country has suffered for a half century.  ³We believe that progress has been made,² said Corlazzoli.

Other organizations that observe human rights declared that the complacent tone of the document, whose criticisms in previous years angered high-level government officials who publicly threatened to revoke the office¹s mandate in Colombia, should not conceal some of its more alarming points.

In spite of the demobilization of some 31,000 paramilitary combatants as part of a peace agreement signed in 2003, the report denounces the resurgence of new armed groups.

Land Law would hit displaced: UN

Corlazzoli also warned about the possibility that some of the displaced may become victims for a second time.

The observation refers to the Rural Development Law, which already passed through the Senate and is making its way through the House.

In Article 122, the legislative proposal says that five years of possession would be enough to demonstrate ownership of a piece of land, which would in theory allow for invaders to obtain titles.

³That article should be reviewed very carefully,² Corlazzoli said, and added that it goes against those who have been forced to abandon their lands by armed actors.

In fact, the Minister of Agriculture, Felipe Arias, had promised to strike down the controversial section in the two remaining debates.   

The report also analyzed the demobilization process Œpara.¹  On that point, the international organization recognized the efforts and advances in the process, but also concerns related to guarantees for the rights of the victims to truth, justice, and reparations.

³The processes against the demobilized made clear that the mechanisms to guarantee the rights of the victims of crimes by paramilitaries are not enough,² maintains the report.

Additionally, it urges the government to dismantle the paramilitary structures that have been reorganizing.  

Colombia Support Network
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