Amnesty Colombia Report: Paramilitaries Expanding and Still Colluding With Government Forces

News from Colombia | on: Thursday, 2 June 2011

Amnesty International recently released its annual report on Colombia, that looked at the development of the human rights situation there during 2010. The report notes that the

“The civilian population, especially rural and poor urban communities, continued to bear the brunt of the long-running armed conflict”, underlines that “most perpetrators of human rights abuses continue to evade justice”, and reports that the threats and killings against those involved in human rights trials undermined the fight against impunity.

The report also notes that despite President Santos’ declarations of intent regarding the return of stolen lands, these were undermined by “increasing threats against and killings of leaders of displaced communities”. Another section of the report states that paramilitaries continue to kill social leaders and others, and that they are expanding, becoming “more sophisticated” and continue to collude with security forces in many parts of Colombia.

The report also highlights the failures of the Justice and Peace process which was supposed to lead to the demobilisation of paramilitaries and the provision of justice for the abuses committed by them. According to Amnesty the process “continued to fall short of international standards” which 27,000 of more than 30,000 “supposedly demobilized” paramilitaries received “de facto amnesties”. It also notes that the Colombian Supreme Court has refused to authorize more extraditions of paramilitaries to the US because those leaders extradited in 2008 have not cooperated with the Colombian justice system in regard to human rights violations, as was feared by many at the time.

The Amnesty report also details the scandal in which the Colombian intelligence service (DAS), under the direct command of President Uribe, had been involved in “massive, long-standing, illegal “dirty tricks” campaign” against human rights defenders, politicians, judges and journalists. The report details the disciplinary sanctions against several public officials for their role in the scandal, including three former DAS directors and former President Uribe’s chief of staff. One former DAS director also fled to Panama where she was given asylum, prompting fears that the criminal investigations could stall.

The report also mentions what the Colombian opposition calls ‘judicial false positives’. These are the legal proceedings against human rights defenders, social activists, trade unionists and members of the political opposition on the basis of minimal evidence, “often based solely on the statements of informants.” Several such cases have recently collapsed.

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