Colombia’s Attorney General investigates 22,000 Cases of Forced Disappearance

(Translated by Gerard Ungerman, a CSN volunteer translator)

Agence France-Presse – April 4, 2009  22:33
According to an interview given on Sunday by Colombia’s Attorney General Mario Iguaran, 22,000 cases of forced disappearance that have happened during the 40 years of internal conflict in Colombia are currently being investigated.  “We are talking today about 22,000 victims of forced disappearance in Colombia.   Out of this number, we have been able to find 1,040 victims and we have identified a few hundred others.  One has to conclude that it is a genocide that has been going on," said the Attorney General to the El Pais daily newspaper in Cali.  Iguaran added that this genocide is still going on, citing the example of a recent massacre of Awa natives committed by the marxist FARC rebels (Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces).   The killing happened in early February in the Southern district of Narino.  "The genocide is still going on; it is not over, as this FARC massacre of Awa natives demonstrates.   What matters now is to make sure that this crime is fully investigated and doesn’t go unpunished,” he said.  According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), 17 persons were murdered during this massacre, 5 of whom were found in early March by a humanitarian commission, along with 3 other victims of another killing that happened last September.  The FARC admitted to killing these 8 indigenous people under the pretext that they were collaborating with the Colombian military.  Iguaran insists that his office has increased efforts to locate victims with the help of relatives and, in particular, with the help of former far-right paramilitary personnel.   Demobilized during the recent peace process, former paramilitaries have revealed the location of dozens of mass graves.  The Attorney General also reported making progress in identifying the perpetrators.   He referred in particular to 11 youths who disappeared in the village of Tolú Viejo in the North of Colombia, a case for which an army lieutenant and several NCO’s are currently being tried.

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