Annual Report: Colombia 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Colombia 2010

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Head of state and government Álvaro Uribe Vélez
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 45.7 million
Life expectancy 72.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 30/22 per 1,000
Adult literacy 92.7 per cent

The internal armed conflict continued to have devastating consequences on the civilian population, with Indigenous communities particularly hard hit. All the warring parties – including the security forces, guerrilla groups and paramilitary groups – were responsible for serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Although fewer civilians were extrajudicially executed by the security forces and forcible displacement increased at a slower rate than in previous years, other human rights abuses intensified. There was a rise in killings of members of marginalized social groups and Indigenous Peoples, and in threats against human rights defenders and other activists. Witnesses to killings and victims of human rights violations and their families were threatened and harassed.

In September, the government announced it would disband the civilian intelligence service (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, DAS) after evidence emerged that it had illegally intercepted the communications of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians and judges for at least seven years, and colluded with paramilitary groups.

The Supreme Court of Justice investigation into the "parapolitical" scandal continued tomake progress. Some 80 Members of Congress –most belonging to parties from the ruling coalition – were under investigation for their alleged links to paramilitary groups.

Tensions increased with several countries in the region, especially Venezuela, following the government's decision to allow the US military to use seven military bases in Colombia.

The internal armed conflict

The warring parties failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants, resulting in forced displacement, killings of civilians, sexual violence against women, hostage-taking, enforced disappearances, forced recruitment of minors and indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population. There was a sharp increase in violence in some of the country's larger cities. This increase was attributed to the armed conflict, drug trafficking-related crimes, and acts of "social cleansing".

Some 20,000 enforced disappearances reportedly continued to be investigated by the Office of the Attorney General.

The number of internally displaced people continued to rise, although at a slower rate than in recent years. In 2009, more than 286,000 people were newly displaced, according to the NGO Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento, CODHES). Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant farmer) communities were most affected.

The government refused to support a bill, the Victims' Law, which would have granted reparation to victims of the conflict on the basis of nondiscrimination, regardless of whether the perpetrator was an agent of the state or not. The bill was rejected by Congress in June.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

During his visit to Colombia in July, the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous people described the human rights situation facing Indigenous Peoples in Colombia as "grave, critical and profoundly worrying". More than 114 Indigenous men, women and children were killed in 2009, an increase compared with 2008. More than half of those killed were members of Awá communities.