Annual Report: Colombia 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Colombia 2011

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  • On 4 September, peasant farmers Luis Alberto Cortés Mesa, José Wilmer Mesa Mesa and Ilfo Boanerge Klinger Rivera were stopped by members of the Black Eagles paramilitary group as they walked home along the river Telembí in Barbacoas Municipality, Nariño Department. On 5 September, the bodies of the three men were found hacked to death and bearing signs of torture.
  • On 15 August, two young men, Diego Ferney Jaramillo Corredor and Silver Robinson Muñoz, were shot dead by gunmen outside the city of Puerto Asís, Putumayo Department. On 20 August, a third man, Norbey Álvarez Vargas, was killed by gunmen in the city. The three were the first three names on a death list of 65 young men from Puerto Asís circulated on the Internet, reportedly by paramilitary groups. On 20 August, a further list was circulated with the names of 31 local young women.

Guerrilla groups

The FARC and the smaller National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) committed serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including unlawful killings, hostage-taking and the recruitment of children.

The FARC in particular carried out indiscriminate attacks in which civilians were put at risk through the use of low-precision explosive devices.

According to government figures, 35 members of the security forces and one civilian were killed in 2010 and 363 injured by anti-personnel mines employed predominantly by the FARC.

According to government figures, there were 282 kidnappings in 2010, compared with 213 in 2009. Most were attributed to criminal gangs, but guerrilla groups were responsible for most conflict-related kidnappings. However, the main NGO supporting victims of kidnapping, País Libre, criticized the government agency responsible for compiling kidnapping statistics, Fondelibertad, for claiming that only 79 people remained in captivity as of February.

  • Lizbeth Jaime, Mónica Duarte and Nohora Guerrero, members of the NGO Fundación Progresar, and María Angélica González, from the Office of the Vice-President, were kidnapped by the ELN on 9 July. They were released on 22 July.

Several soldiers and police officers held by the FARC were freed.

Human rights defenders and other activists

Human rights defenders, trade unionists and social leaders continued to be threatened and killed, mainly by paramilitary groups. In 2010, at least 14 human rights defenders were killed. The National Trade Union School reported that 51 members of trade unions were killed during the year.

  • On 10 October, the paramilitary Black Eagles Central Bloc sent an email death threat to 20 individuals and 69 human rights and social organizations, most of which were campaigning for reparation for victims of human rights violations, and for the return of stolen lands.
  • On 17 June, in Barrancabermeja, Santander Department, gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed Nelson Camacho González, a member of the oil workers' union. The killing followed a death threat sent on 26 May by the paramilitary Joint Cleansing Command to 17 NGOs, trade unions, peasant farmer organizations, and groups representing forcibly displaced people working in Barrancabermeja and the surrounding area.

Human rights defenders and social activists accused of links with guerrilla groups continued to face criminal proceedings, often based solely on the statements of informants.

Violence against women and girls

All parties to the conflict subjected women to sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based violence.

  • In November, an army lieutenant was arrested in connection with the killing of two brothers aged nine and six, and the rape and killing of their sister, aged 14, in Tame, Arauca Department. The three children had disappeared on 14 October.

Women activists working with displaced women were threatened and killed.