Abuses Continue in Narino Department

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 27 December 2007

Human rights groups in the south western Colombian department of Narino have reported on a recent upsurge in repression against the civilian population. According to witnesses soldiers have been attacking and threatening to kill people, detaining and torturing civilians and stealing or damaging property, animals and other items from small rural communities.

According to a communiqué from activists in Narino the most recent attacks are occurring in and around the communities of Corosala, Mugui and El Azucar in the Llorento area of Tumaco municipality. Those responsible for the abuses appear to be troops of the 113th and 116th Counter-Guerrilla Battalions of the 19th Mobile Brigade along with special anti-narcotics troops from the special 'Scorpion' unit attached the 3rd Division of the Colombian Army.

As well as stealing animals, food and money from residents of small rural communities – mainly inhabited by indigenous people, Afro-Colombians or peasant farmers – the soldiers have told people that a paramilitary death squad will soon be arriving in the region to "finish them off". Numerous people have also been detained and badly beaten by the soldiers who regularly hide the identification on their uniforms – name, rank, unit, etc.

In one of the most recent incidents, on the morning of December 18th, troops under the command of a Colonel Jerez entered the home of peasant farmers Jorge Luis Cuajibioy and Ivan Velazco. The soldiers accused the men of being FARC guerrilla supporters before beating them and destroying much of their home. The two victims were then forced to dig a pit which the troops said they would be burying them in. However, rather than murdering them the soldiers stole their chickens and left without explanation.

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