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31 January 2002


UA 30/02 Fear for Safety/Possible 'disappearance'


COLOMBIA Johana Vargas Bustos (f), aged 16


Soldiers reportedly detained 16-year-old Johana Vargas Bustos on 18

January at a checkpoint in El Castillo municipality, in Meta

department. She has not been seen since. Amnesty International

fears she may have 'disappeared', and is seriously concerned for her



The checkpoint, in the Aguas Zarcas area near the town of Dorado,

was reportedly run by soldiers of the Alban Battalion, VII brigade.

They reportedly forced Johana Vargas Bustos and a young man off a

bus at 11:45am.


The soldiers reportedly lifted the checkpoint at 4pm, and set free

everyone they had detained. Subsequently unidentified gunmen

forced Johana and the young man into a car which drove off in the

direction of the neighboring municipality of Cubarral. They both

apparently tried to escape, but only the young man got away.



The Alban Battalion is carrying out counter-insurgency operations

against armed opposition groups in Meta department, who are

fighting for control of the area.


During one of these operations, on 11 January, the battalion

reportedly entered a village in El Castillo municipality, and accused

the inhabitants of being guerrilla collaborators. In recent weeks army-

backed paramilitaries have reportedly stopped food-deliveries into the

municipality of El Castillo and accused drivers of delivering to the

guerrillas. In the past those accused of collaborating with guerrilla

groups by the security forces and their paramilitary allies have

frequently been victim of serious human rights violations by these



Paramilitary groups are reportedly maintaining a permanent blockade

over deliveries to El Castillo municipality, levying taxes on those

deliveries that they let through. Paramilitary groups are able to

operate despite the fact that the VII Brigade has control of the area.

Guerrilla forces are known to have killed people they consider to be

collaborating with their enemies.


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

as possible:

- expressing concern for the safety of Johana Vargas Bustos, who

has not been seen since she was detained at a checkpoint in El

Castillo municipality, Meta department, run the by Alban Battalion of

the VII Brigade, on 18 January, and urging the authorities to do

everything necessary to find out where she is;

- urging the authorities to order a full and impartial investigation into

her 'disappearance', to publish the results and bring those

responsible to justice;

- calling for full and impartial investigations into links between the

security forces and paramilitary groups operating in Meta, and for

members of the security forces responsible for cooperating and

operating in unison with these groups to be brought to justice;

- calling for decisive action to combat and dismantle paramilitary

groups, in line with repeated UN recommendations and government




Commander of the VII Brigade

Comandante de la VII Brigada

Coronel Francisco Pedraza Pelaez

Calle 37 No. 33B-33

Villavicencio, Meta, COLOMBIA

Salutation: Dear Colonel Pedraza Pelaez


Attorney General

Dr. Luis Camilo Osorio

Fiscal General de la Nacion, Fiscalia General de la Nacion

Apartado Aereo 29855, Diagonal 22B 52-01 (Ciudad Salite)

Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA

Telegram: Fiscal General, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 570 2000

Salutation: Dear Dr. Osorio


National Advocate for the people

Sr. Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz

Defensor del Pueblo, Defensoria del Pueblo

Calle 55, No. 10-32/46 office 301

Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA

Telegram: National Advocate, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 640 0491

Salutation: Dear Mr. Cifuentes Munoz


President of Colombia

Senor Presidente Andres Pastrana, Presidente de la Republica

Palacio de Narino, Carrera 8 No. 7-26

Santafe de Bogota, COLOMBIA

Telegrams: President Pastrana, Bogota, Colombia

Telex: 44281 PALP CO

Fax: 011 57 1 566 20 71

Salutation: Dear President Pastrana



The Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared

ASFADDES - Nacional

Asociacion de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos

AA 011446

Santafe de Bogota



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 13, 2002.



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that promotes and defends human rights.


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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

Email: uan@aiusa.org


Phone: 303 258 1170

Fax: 303 258 7881