More Than 57 Thousand Disappeared Says UN in Colombia

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 28 May 2011

Christian Salazar, the Colombia representative of the UN High Commission for Human Rights has estimated that there are more than 57 thousand disappeared in Colombia. The statement came at a conference on disappearances held in Bogota on the 23rd May.

Many of the disappearances involve “agents of the state and paramilitary forces that collaborate with them” – at least 15,600 disappearances are known to have been committed by state forces and paramilitaries. Furthermore, paramilitaries have confessed to at least 34,467 forced disappearances in just the five years between June 2005 and December 2010. The UN representative also said that more than 3,000 of the disappeared are women, and that more than 3,000 are people under the age of 20.

According to a report by the Legal Medical Forensics Office (Oficina de Medicina Legal) between 2007 and 2009 more than 38,000 people were disappeared. Many NGOs in Colombia think that the true figure for disappearances is even higher, based upon figures given by the Attorney General’s office, which has reported 173,183 homicides committed by paramilitaries, many victims of which could yet be identified as disappeared.

Mr Salazar said “Colombia is one of the countries with the most disappearances in Latin America and the world.” Decades of state repression had resulted in “thousands and thousands” of disappeared. He also noted that there had been no progress in the struggle against impunity, despite improvements to the legal framework, and lamented the lack of responsiveness of the Colombian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces to his offices recommendations regarding the identification of the disappeared and the struggle against impunity.

The figures for disappearances in Colombia are far higher than those recorded under the infamous dictatorships in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile during the 1970s and 1980s.

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