Tuesday, 31 March 1998

Bogota human rights monitoring system beefed up 

GENEVA -- The Colombian government and the United Nations have 
agreed to strengthen the international human rights monitoring 
system in the country, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary 
Robinson said Tuesday. 

An agreement between Colombia and Robinson's predecessor, Jose 
Ayala Lasso, has been extended for another year, Robinson told the 
Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

The accord also calls for boosting the number of human rights 
officers to 12 from the current seven.

The UN human rights office in Bogota, opened one year ago, observes 
and reports on the human rights situation throughout the country, 
"taking into account the climate of violence and internal armed 
conflict" and government measures to improve conditions. 

Robinson last week said she was extremely worried by the scope of 
human rights violations in Colombia. A UN report given to the 
commission refers to "serious, massive and systematic" abuses, 
mostly by paramilitary groups.

Between October 1996 and September 1997, some 3,439 people were 
killed in Colombia, according to non-governmental sources, which 
claim private militias were behind 76 percent of the deaths, guerilla 
groups 18 percent and government forces around four percent. 

(c) Copyright 1998 Agence France Presse

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