Note: Please write on behalf of these people even though you may
not have received the original UA when issued on June 4, 2001.
8 February 2002
Further information on UA 136/01 issued 4 June 2001 and reissued
11 December 2001
Fear for Safety
COLOMBIA Forcibly displaced civilian communities of the
Cacarica River Basin area and other displaced communities in the
department of Choco

Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of the

Afro-Colombian civilian communities of the Cacarica River Basin

(Cuenca del Cacarica) in the department of Choco and the

indigenous communities living in the same area, who have received

reports that they may be facing an imminent paramilitary incursion.


On 8 February, a large number of armed men thought to be

paramilitaries were reported to be heading towards two resettlement

communities at Esperanza en Dios and Nueva Vida. They were

coming from a paramilitary base reportedly situated in San Jose de la

Balsa, south of the Cacarica River Basin. Amnesty International has

condemned the establishment of the reported base in recent years,

yet no decisive action has been taken by the authorities to dismantle

it. They have also failed to confront paramilitaries in the area, who

continue to operate despite a heavy-military presence.


Concern for the safety of the indigenous communities living in the

region and inhabitants of the returned Afro-Colombian communities of

the Cacarica River Basin has been heightened by reports that they

have been ordered by the paramilitaries to attend a meeting at the

paramilitary base in San Jose de la Balsa on 9 February.



In recent years many of the inhabitants of the communities in the

Cacarica River Basin area have returned to their lands after they

were forced to flee their homes in the wake of joint paramilitary-

military operations in the region in early 1997. During their forced

displacement, the communities of the Cacarica River Basin were

frequently subjected to death threats and human rights violations

committed by army-backed paramilitaries. These often took place

after they were labelled guerrilla collaborators by the security forces

and their paramilitary allies. During the process of return, several

members of the communities have been killed and 'disappeared',

including community leader Freddy Gallego ( UA 240/00, 14 August

2000 and follow-ups). The communities have also faced repeated

threats made by paramilitary forces who have been able to enter the

Cacarica River Basin despite the fact the area is heavily-militarized

and despite repeated alerts to the Colombian security forces of the

presence of paramilitary forces. (UA 136/01, 4 June 2001 and for

more details on the forcibly displaced communities of Choco

Department see AI report: Colombia: Return to Hope, AMR 23/23/00,

June 2000). Armed opposition groups have also been responsible for

threats and killings against members of returned displaced

communities in Choco Department.


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

as possible:

- expressing serious concern for the safety of the returned displaced

communities in the Cacarica River Basin area and indigenous

communities living in the same area in the light of reports of a heavy

paramilitary presence in the region and threats of an imminent

paramilitary incursion;

- urging the authorities to take all measures that the communities

themselves deem appropriate to guarantee their safety;

- expressing concern that the government and its security forces have

taken no effective action against paramilitary groups in the

department of Choco, despite repeated commitments and UN

recommendations to combat and dismantle these groups;

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the

security forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of

Choco, urging that the results are made public and those found

responsible for supporting and participating in such groups are

brought to justice;

- urging the authorities to take immediate and decisive action to

dismantle paramilitary groups, in line with repeated government

commitments and UN recommendations.



President of the Republic:

Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana Arango

Presidente de la Republica

Palacio de Narino

Carrera 8 No.7-26

Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

Telegram: Presidente de la Republica, Bogota, Colombia

Faxes:011 57 1 336 2109 /337 1351/284 2186/566 2071

Salutation: Dear President / Excmo. Sr. Presidente


Minister of Defense:

Dr. Gustavo Bell

Ministro de Defensa Nacional

Ministerio de Defensa Nacional

Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52

Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

Telegram: Ministro de Defensa, Bogota, Colombia

Telex: 396 42411 INPRE CO; 396 44561 CFAC CO

Faxes: 011 57 1 288 4906/ 286 4126 / 281 1213 / 222 1874

Salutation: Dear Minister / Sr. Ministro


Commander of the XVII Brigade of the Colombian Army:

General Pablo Rodriguez Laverde

Carepa, Uraba, Colombia

Telegrams: Comandante XVII Brigada, Carepa, Uraba, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 4 823 6601/823 6844/823 6605/823 6796/823 6601

Salutation: Dear Commander/Sr Comandanta



Intercongregational Commission for Justice and Peace:

Comision Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz

AA 31861

Bogota, Colombia.


Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno

Embassy of Colombia

2118 Leroy Pl. NW

Washington DC 20008

Fax: 1 202 232 8643


Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado office

between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays only, if

sending appeals after March 22, 2002.


Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement

that promotes and defends human rights.


Please do not repost this appeal to any part of the Internet

without prior permission from Amnesty International. Thank you for

your help with this appeal.


Urgent Action Network

Amnesty International USA

PO Box 1270

Nederland CO 80466-1270


Phone: 303 258 1170

Fax: 303 258 7881