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Monday, July 31, 2006


REINICIAR (Begin Again)            Colombian Commission of Lawyers



The Reiniciar (Begin Again) Corporation and the Colombian Commission of Lawyers, petitioning organizations before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in the case of the wiping out of the Unión Patriótica (Patriotic Union; UP), publicly declare the reasons for our decision not to continue with the process begun in 2001 of finding an amicable solution. The long list of lack of compliance and absence of guarantees for the families and survivors of the genocide of the UP demonstrate that the Colombian government has no interest in making the goals of an amicable solution a reality.

On June 27 the petitioning organizations formalized before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights the decision not to continue seeking an amicable solution to the case of the wiping out of the UP with the Colombian state. The decision, which was made in consultation with and evaluated by the political parties involved in the case and also with the Coordinación Nacional de Víctimas y Familiares del Genocidio contra la Unión Patriótica (National Coalition of Victims and Families of the Genocide of the UP), is basically a response to the intolerable situation of permanent and serious lack of compliance by the Colombian government.

The violations and threats have continued. Under the current government, at least 136 homicides of UP and Communist Party survivors, 38 cases of forced disappearance, and 28 attempted homicides have been perpetrated. This is without counting the hundreds of displaced families, victims of judicial setups. In spite of these serious facts, the authorities have not adopted effective means of preventing new violations.

The government encouraged the persecution of the UP and the PCC. Because of the persistence of the harassment, the petitioners repeatedly called on the government to make a statement condemning the atacks against the members of the UP and the Communist Party and to adopt other measures designed to prevent new violations. The government not only evaded its obligation to protect but also fomented more harassment. President Uribe¹s statements against the Communists are examples of this attitude, and strong accusations against the UP were the basis of his re-election campaign. Because of these facts, which ³made the glass overflow,² the petitioners sought a correction from the President, but to date we have received no reply.

The government¹s persistent lack of compliance prevented moving toward an amicable solution. The lack of political will is evidenced also in the refusal to implement measures to compensate for violated rights, such as the creation of a group of prosecutors and investigators working exclusively on clarifying the genocide, and the re-establishment of the legal personnel of the UP. The objectives assumed in the agreement to seek an amicable solution were also truncated by the excessive delays in assigning and releasing resources, in spite of the repeated petition by the National Procurator to assign a fixed buget item to the UP case.
These and other circumstances prevented us from continuing with a process that the government has not treated seriously nor to which it has given the necessary commitment, and which has come to a standstill because of the unjustifiable delays in achieving the rights of the victims to truth, justice, and reparation. We will proceed with the case before the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, where we are confident we will find the justice that has been denied internally.

      Corporación Reiniciar            Colombian Commission of Lawyers

Bogotá, July 4, 2006

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Final Statement

Eight proposals for truth, justice, comprehensive
reparation, memory, and the non-repetition of crimes
against humanity

The second presidential term of Álvaro Uribe Vélez
will bring the national crisis to a new level. His
strategic plan, found in such documents as Plan 2019,
aims to eliminate the most advanced aspects of the
1991 Constitution, further the militarization of
national life, and implement the Free Trade Agreement,
in addition to other elements that concern a model
completely authoritarian politically, and deeply
regressive socially.

Without a doubt, this context will cause further
deterioration to human rights, social rights, and
public liberties. The policy of “democratic security”
increases the repressive and arbitrary measures, the
extrajudicial executions, and the brutality in the use
of force by the army and police, as well as the
militarisation of the country, illegal actions of
State agents, and further U.S. military intervention
in the internal armed conflict.

The different provisions in the Free Trade Agreement
comprise the foundation of the increasing mass
impoverishment of agrarian and industrial sectors,
which invariably will be discriminated by a
competition that will only favour the United States’
economy and the interests of multinationals. In
addition to this alliance going against Colombia’s
productive forces, the current administration also
proposes for a tax reform that would exempt major
capital from paying taxes and would re-distribute this
responsibility to the least affluent sectors of the
population. This would mean a greater concentration of
wealth and a social widening of absolute poverty.

At the centre of this model is the favourable
treatment granted to paramilitarism, which has allowed
for its economic, political and social re-engineering
over the last four years. Far from being a process
de-activating paramilitary strategies, in many parts
of Colombia the consolidation of narco-paramilitary
power has been favoured by the emergence of a
demobilisation and re-insertion process. In these
regions, the process of social control has followed
the same steps. After a violent incursion by
paramilitary groups supported by army and police units
(carried out through massacres, forced displacement,
extermination centres in rural areas, and forcibly
disappearing cadavers in mass graves), social and
political control is established through infiltration
into State institutions in order to institute
laundering of assets, contracting of public works,
investment in such areas as construction, and
processes to legalise the violent appropriation of

As a response to this model for an anti-democratic
society, social movements –which include the growing
convergence and organisation of victims’ and
survivors’ associations- have significantly increased
their public actions.

Gathered together at the Third National Encounter, the
Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes
(Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado)
presents Colombian society with eight proposals meant
to bringing about the rights to truth, justice,
comprehensive reparation, memory, and the
non-repetition of crimes against humanity and

1. A legal strategy that pursues the senior authors of
the crimes and the responsibility of State agents

For the Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes,
the paramilitary strategy has been designed, put into
operation, and institutionalised by the Colombian
State by way of creating different mechanisms,
including legal norms that have legitimised their
action, as well as others that aim to legalise the
impunity of their crimes. In this way, the legal
instruments used in the so-called “negotiation and
demobilisation” process –such as Law 782/02 and Decree
128/03- have served to grant pardons and amnesties to
93% of the paramilitaries. Other complementary norms
have granted economic benefits and subsidies to those
who have demobilised, without verifying if they belong
to paramilitary groups. This occurs despite the
continuing process of economic, social and political
consolidation, as well as the perpetration of new
crimes throughout national territory. Additionally,
Law 975/05 –inappropriately called the “Justice and
Peace” Law-, and its regulatory decree 4760/05,
attempt to close this cycle of impunity. In their
original version, these norms do not establish the
guarantees necessary to recognise the victims’ rights
to truth, justice, comprehensive reparation, and
non-repetition of crimes. Furthermore, these norms do
not recognise the existence of victims of the State
and aim to conceal the State’s responsibility in the
emergence, action, development, and consolidation of
the paramilitary strategy. In spite of the fact that
the Constitutional Court issued ruling C-370 in which
some limitations are introduced to these extensive
benefits, it is already evident that the current
administration and the paramilitaries will employ any
kind of stratagem to achieve impunity, as well as to
keep safe the assets obtained by way of these
atrocious crimes and currently legalised through asset
laundering operations.

This is why revealing the mechanisms of impunity
–through the use of diverse national and international
legal instances and procedures- is one of the
challenges faced by the Movement of Victims of
State-Sponsored Crimes. By referring to the past work
of the Colombia Never Again Project (Proyecto Colombia
Nunca Más), the Victims’ Movement will clarify the
truth concerning what happened through gathering the
victims’ testimonies and will document new forms of
paramilitary re-engineering. In order to do this, the
movement will clarify the facts relating to the links
between paramilitaries and authorities (both civilian
and military), in addition to the crimes that continue
to be committed, and will clearly identify the
beneficiaries of these crimes.

In terms of the more than 50,000 crimes against
humanity –the documentation for which was presented to
the Prosecutor General (Fiscal General de la Nación)
on June 29, 2006-, the Victims’ Movement demands that
those most responsible for these crimes be punished
and requests for the existing arrest warrants to be
made effective immediately. The Victims’ Movement also
re-affirms its demand that those who have determined
these grave crimes –corrupt politicians,
businesspeople, ranchers and landowners, and
intermediaries for multinationals- be punished
exemplarly, with criminal sentencing proportional to
the crimes and with judicial measures that impede
these persons from taking on any public duty in the

2. A strategy for truth and historical memory

On different occasions, the Movement of Victims of
State-Sponsored Crimes has expressed its position
regarding historical truth and memory. Truth is an
essential principle for overcoming the impunity of
crimes against humanity, and for fully bringing about
the rights to justice and comprehensive reparation.
For the Victims’ Movement, clarifying what has
happened is not a procedure to be carried out secretly
and privately with those affected by the violence.
Historical truth and memory are a part of a
democratisation process of society, as well as an
opportunity for the excluded, persecuted, and
stigmatised social forces to be able to participate in
public life. It is a process that should seriously
challenge the democratic character of the present
Colombian political regime. It should also weaken the
social legitimacy of the groups in power that, by way
of systematically employing lies and justifying
crimes, have been able to maintain an image of social
respectability and hold the victims responsible for
the aggression they have been subjected to over
extended periods of time.

In terms of advancing a historical clarification of
the facts, the work carried out by the Colombia Never
Again Project is the most important information
available to the Victims’ Movement. This ten-year
research effort solidly sustains the existence of
State terrorism in Colombia, not as an ideological
notion, rather as an empirically demonstrable reality.
This is why strategic tasks for the victims of the
State include the social dissemination and legal use
of this information.

As far as sources for the historical truth, different
efforts should be strengthened such as
testimony-gathering, forensic evidence sustaining the
statistical information, searching for documents with
evidentiary value, work on the official archive, and
habeas data actions. Concerning the latter, this theme
requires knowledge on the location of the official
archives and the timelines for declassifying the
documents in them. Additionally, contact needs to be
made with U.S. organisations that declassify official
documents relating to military and political
intervention in Latin American countries. In terms of
the crimes that have not been documented yet, or in
which information must still be systematised and
grouped, the Colombia Never Again Project needs to
classify the extermination process of groups and
collectives. In other words, the project must document
the existence of the genocides and extermination
processes. Likewise, the project needs to document the
war crimes committed by the State, and undertake a
systemisation effort concerning politically motivated
forced displacement, arbitrary detention, and exile.

In order to maintain and disseminate the gathered
information, we propose that the Victims’ Movement
works to create a memory and documentation centre that
also serves as a security archive and a space for
public dialogue in regards to historical truth. This
centre could also maintain the results from the
research processes that have been developed by the
victims, the databases by human rights organisations,
and the documentary archives of the social, political
and union organisations, as well as the available
documentary reports and compilations.

3. A strategy for memory and comprehensive reparation
developed by the victims: the Ethics Commission

The Victims’ Movement asserts its right to safeguard
historical memory by way of creating an ethics
commission that maintains the historical truth of the
victims of State crimes, and shares this history with
Colombian society and humanity, in addition to its
concept of the meaning of justice and comprehensive
reparation as based on international law and peoples’
rights. This ethics commission is born out of the
absence of a justice system that deals precisely with
genocide and crimes against humanity; because victims
do not know their rights; because the meaning of
truth, justice, and reparation has been trivialised by
the National Commission for Reparation and
Reconciliation, which was created by Law 975/05. The
ethics commission will be in session for 10 years, and
will have 25 international members and 5 national
members (persons and organisations highly recognised
in ethics from North America, South America, Europe,
Africa, and Asia). The commission will also promote
creating houses to safeguard memory and care for the
victims’ testimonies and objects. Additionally, the
commission will encourage public memory spaces by way
of public museums, monument construction,
investigation of mass graves, and alternative
exhumation practices (a part of the right to bury).

In order to construct proposals for truth, justice,
and reparation with the victims’ family members,
communities, and organisations –including indigenous
people, Afro-Colombians, mestizos, workers, women,
children, and young people-, the ethics commission
will compile the fundamental information for the
future creation of an authentic commission to clarify
the historical facts once real guarantees exist for
such a commission in Colombia.

In terms of victims affirming their rights to memory,
truth, justice, and comprehensive reparation, the
ethics commission will accompany the victims in the
following practices: people’s museums, “seed houses”,
pilgrimages, creating areas for protection and
alternative land registry, exhumation of remains,
protection of property and biodiversity, restoring and
strengthening organisations and social fabric, public
acts, and press conferences. By the end of its
mandate, the ethics commission will comprehensively
and systematically make public the proposals for
truth, justice, and reparation. The commission will
also present the past experiences of the victims –who
must be recognised by the State-, as well as a legal
initiative for creating a new justice system.

4. A strategy for non-repetition: the legal
prohibition of paramilitarism

Paramilitary strategies have gravely damaged Colombian
society. In addition to spreading death and terror,
these strategies have been the principal forms of
eliminating social and political opposition. The
historical origin and current existence of
paramilitarism is the responsibility of the Colombian
State. Today, the State wants to legitimise
paramilitarism and turn it into an economic power by
way of preserving its bloody accumulation of wealth.

This is why the Victims’ Movement believes that, as a
part of the guarantees for non-repetition of crimes
against humanity and genocide in Colombia, there must
also be the proscription of paramilitary strategies in
the country. This initiative entails drafting a
constitutional reform bill that would prohibit any
provision attempting to validate at least three
methods of paramilitarism.

In the first place, the bill would decree the
prohibition of any public policy meant to arm the
civilian population, or grant duties to civilians that
pertain to the armed forces or State security corps
(such as “Convivir” co-operatives and other kinds of
civilian networks with informants and collaborators).

Additionally, this bill would specify the
classification of the crime of State agents allied
with paramilitary groups. In this regard, it would
increase the punishment for those that incur in this
practice or encourage the paramilitary infiltration of
the State and the use of public contracts to benefit
individuals belonging to these para-State

Lastly, this bill would prohibit members of the public
force from planning covert paramilitary operations,
and from creating death squads and mercenary groups
within national territory.

The Victims’ Movement is fully aware that, with the
present composition of the national congress, a bill
with these characteristics clearly has no chance of
being passed. Nonetheless, the movement will persevere
until this norm acquires a constitutional status and
becomes the property of society. Likewise, the
Victims’ Movement will turn this proposal into an
instrument to open the way for the controversial
policy of guaranteeing the non-repetition of State
terrorism and the cleansing of the public force.

5. A strategy for reparation: alternative land

For the Victims’ Movement, reparation is not a
charitable act carried out by the State, nor is it a
transaction meant to quantify the dignity of the
victims with a sum of money. It also is not a
collection of money by international co-operation or a
duty of all citizens by way of new taxes, as has been
sustained by the current administration and the
president of the National Commission for Reparation
and Reconciliation. Those who have to make reparations
are those who have caused the damage and those who
currently possess the wealth that has been seized from
the violated communities and groups.

For the Victims’ Movement, reparation is a process of
justice with those who have suffered from the
violence, and with society itself. This is why the
movement reiterates its commitment to push forward the
agrarian mandate, which is a part of the proposal for
the elaboration of an alternative land registry as a
direct mechanism for gathering information on the
victims’ property, land, and territory that was seized
through the policy of State terrorism.

Alternative land registry is the search for
information concerning the magnitude of the
dispossession. It is also the attempt to clearly show
that forced displacement is a strategy for agrarian
counter-reform that establishes a new process of land
accumulation. With this tool, the victims will be able
to sue for the 5 million hectares of territory that
was violently seized from campesino, Afro-Colombian,
indigenous, and settler communities. This land
registry will also be able to claim the State’s
responsibility for having directly allowed or
sponsored this violent dispossession.

6. A strategy to fight against the forced
disappearance of persons: the exhumation of mass
graves and the right to bury

The victims of State-sponsored crimes assert their
right to exhume the mortal remains from the mass
graves and bury with dignity the thousands of persons
that, as a part of the paramilitary strategy, were
subjected to the crime of forced disappearance.

Many family members know where the mortal remains of
their loved ones were hidden. Many communities
witnessed the elimination of their leaders and members
in farmhouses that were turned into extermination
centres and burial grounds. Nonetheless, the victims
still cannot be given a dignified burial, for the same
regular and irregular military structures –which
tortured, forcibly disappeared, and later murdered
persons- still have control in these regions.

The Victims’ Movement sustains the legitimate right to
grieve and know where relatives can visit their family
members and where the communities can pay tribute to
those who were sacrificed. The movement also affirms
its right to find those who have been forcibly
disappeared, know where they are, and recover the
remains of humanity, their remains. The movement
considers the right to exhume to be an opportunity to
re-create the lives of those who have suffered the
crimes, as well as an opportunity to revitalise the
rivers and land from being a place of concealment and
the impunity of the perpetrators. The movement
ratifies the right to turn pain into hope and the
chance to clarify the facts concerning the truth and
dignify the name, options, ideals, and life projects
of those who were forcibly disappeared. This right is
about resistance and resilience, persistence. It is
the right to exhume life and memory.

7. A strategy to fight against political genocide:
truth, justice, and reparation for the victims and
survivors of the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica)

The political opposition has been persecuted and
driven to extermination in Colombia. The crimes
committed against these expressions are meant to
repress the construction of social and political
alternatives, which offer a civilian solution to the
causes of the armed conflict.

The Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes
truly feels the immense effort undertaken by the
victims and survivors of the Colombian Communist Party
and the Patriotic Union to know the full truth, access
a justice that punishes exemplarly the sponsors and
authors of the political genocide that has been
perpetrated against them, and obtain comprehensive
reparation for the more than 4,000 crimes committed
against their activists. Additionally, the movement
fully supports the search for political reparation and
restitution of the public positions held at all
governmental and State levels.

The Victims’ Movement expresses its unrestricted
support for the decision to suspend the stage of
searching for a friendly settlement, which had been
developing before the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights (case no. 11.227) against the Colombian
State for genocide and grave violation to the human
rights and political liberties of the members of this
party and the Patriotic Union opposition movement.

For the victims of the State, the Álvaro Uribe Vélez
administration, along with the corresponding official
institutions, have not only not advanced
investigations, nor punished those responsible and
those who have profited from this extermination,
rather, to the contrary, ongoing efforts have been
carried out to publicly discredit and stigmatise the
legitimate work of the survivors of this systematic
elimination. By promoting the most primitive
anti-communism, and justifying this genocide, the
continuation of new acts of violence is encouraged
against the members of the opposition groups.

In terms of the current outlook, for the Victims’
Movement it is clear that Law 975/05 is a tool for
impunity. Therefore, in regards to the case of the
communist party and the Patriotic Union, as well as in
the other thousands of crimes and violations against
the social and popular movement, this law will not
allow the advancement of the rights to truth, justice,
comprehensive reparation, historical memory, and
guarantees for non-repetition.

8. An organising strategy: strengthening the Victims’

As far as the diverse social, ethnic, and political
sectors attacked by the State’s authoritarian
strategy, the Movement of Victims’ of State-Sponsored
Crimes represents an effort for coming together and
building trust. By becoming a social force against
impunity, the movement has been bringing together
multiple organised expressions into one single
process, which offers its own mechanisms for ongoing
co-ordination and consulting in the national arena.

Nonetheless, a successful fight against impunity
requires solid, patient regional organising efforts
that bring together the diverse positions of the
victims of State-sponsored crimes into one single
mechanism for ongoing co-ordination, and that truly
bring about social, political and legal lines of
action in each region. Education and training in
matters of conflict and peace, as well as ways in
which to demand and bring to fruition human rights
–and especially victims’ rights-, must hold an
important place in this dynamic.

The cause of the victims and the affirmation of their
rights are strengthened by the creation of each new
organisation of family members or survivors of crimes
sponsored by the State. This is why we congratulate
the creation of the movement: Daughters and Sons for
Remembering and against Impunity (Hijas e Hijos por la
Memoria y contra la Impunidad).

Third National Encounter of the Movement of Victims of
State-Sponsored Crimes

Bogotá D.C.
July 9, 2006

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Office of the United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights demands FARC to release hostages


July 18, 2006

HCHR Office in Colombia rejects the massive kidnapping of inhabitants from department of Choco. In accordance with Colombian authorities these fact is attributed to members of FARC-EP guerrillas.

The HCHR repeatedly claims that kidnapping and taking of hostages is considered as a war crime, for this fact is a serious infringement of the international humanitarian rights.

The HCHR recalls the fact that the High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour demanded in her last report on Colombia that illegal armed groups must ordain to its members to keep a clear respect for humanitarian laws.

The Office reiterates the demand given by the High Commissioner to FARC-EP, and all the illegal armed groups to release immediately, and with no conditions, all the people who have been taken as hostages.

The Office entrusts that Colombian authorities will adopt all the necessary measures to clarify the information related to several casualties of people taken as hostages.

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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