EXTRA-JUDICIAL EXECUTIONS: AN UNDENIABLE REALITY
( Translated by Peter Lenny, a CSN volunteer translator)
· 535 extra-judicial executions were recorded from 1 January 2007 to 1 July 2008.
· In 58% of the cases, the victims were juveniles.
These and other figures on extra-judicial executions, as well as on the context of new patterns and methods of concealing how these crimes are committed, the states most affected, and exposés of some of the most important cases, will all be considered tomorrow, Wednesday, 29 October, as part of the event "Extra-judicial Executions: An Undeniable Reality", to take place from 9 am, at the Gabriel García Márquez Cultural Centre (Calle 11, No 5-60).
At the same event, the International Observation Mission on Extra-judicial Executions and Impunity in Colombia will present its Final Report. The mission took place from 3 to 10 October 2007 with the participation of 13 independents professionals (jurists, journalists, forensic anthropologists and human rights experts) from Germany, Spain, United States, France and the United Kingdom.
Reports on extra-judicial executions in the Catatumbo region and in Arauca state will also be presented.
Organised by the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination, a coalition of 199 Colombian groups formed for human rights promotion, information and advocacy, the event will be attended by human rights advocacy social organisations, the diplomatic corps, representatives of the United Nations System office in Colombia, members of the Colombian Congress. Invitations have been sent to State oversight agencies and institutions of the central government.
This dramatic situation is sure to be one of the key issues in the examination of human rights violations that the Colombian government will be asked to explain, on 10 December 2008, by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In their report for the Universal Periodic Review, the 4 platforms on Human Rights and Peace, the Coalition against Connecting Children and Young People with the Armed Conflict, the Working Group on Women and Armed Conflict, the World Organization Against Torture and the Observatory against Racial Discrimination complain that "In the past five years, there has been a 67.71% increase in recorded extra-judicial executions directly attributed to government forces, and this lapse coincides with application of the policy of “democratic security" applied by the present government since it came to office on 7 August 2002".
In its last report on the human rights situation in Colombia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights recognised "The persistence of extrajudicial executions attributed to members of the security forces,especially members of the Army", adding also that "Some common characteristics of the complaints are the following: the victims are represented as having being killed in combat; the scene of the crime has been tampered with before the bodies were identified; and often investigations have been initiated by the Military Criminal Justice system. Official investigations reveal that the underlying motives in several of these cases may be related to pressure on the military to show results, or to false claims of success in action by certain members of the security forces to obtain benefits and recognition".
Despite these constant concerns on the part of the Colombian and international communities, on 9 September, Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos declared that there had been “a substantial reduction in cases” of extra-judicial executions, claiming that so far this year only 25 cases had occurred, in contrast with the 102 documented by the organisations.
The cases of Soacha and Ciudad Bolívar and others uncovered as a result of those events in other regions of Colombia have shown not only that this practice is being used persistently and systematically, but also that new patterns and methods are being developed to cover up the commission of these crimes and ensure they go unpunished.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI 53701-1505
phone: (608) 257-8753
fax: (608) 255-6621