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27 February 2002


UA 62/02 Fear for Safety/Possible 'disappearance'



COLOMBIA Gilberto Torres Martinez (m) - trade union leader

  Other members of the Oil Worker's Union (USO),

Monterrey Municipality, Department of Casanare



Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of

members of the Oil Worker's Union (USO), in Monterrey Municipality,

Department of Casanare and Gilberto Torres Martinez, a trade union

leader who has not been seen since he was reportedly abducted by

army-backed paramilitaries on

25 February.


According to information received, at approximately 6:00pm, Gilberto

Torres Martinez left his place of work at the Estacion Porvenir del

Oleoducto Central de los Llanos, Porvenir Station of the Llanos

Central Oil-pipeline, Monterrey Municipality, to go home. He was

reportedly abducted by several heavily-armed men thought to be

members of the Bloque Centauros de las Autodefensas Unidas de

Colombia, (AUC), Centauros Bloc of the United Self-Defence Groups

of Colombia, who reportedly took him away in the direction of Puerto

Lopez Municipality in the neighbouring department of Meta.


Amnesty International's concern for the safety of Gilberto Torres

Martinez is heightened by the fact that USO activists have frequently

been the target of death threats and serious human rights violations

carried out by paramilitary forces allied to the security forces. In

December 2001 Aury Sara Marrugo and his bodyguard Enrique

Arellano were forcibly abducted by paramilitaries and subsequently

killed. (UA 309/01 issued 3 December 2001 and re-issued 6

December 2001). Concern is further heightened because the

paramilitaries were able to forcibly abduct Gilberto Torres Martinez

despite the presence of a Colombian Army base near the Porvenir oil

installations and the fact that the army maintains checkpoints along

the roads by the oil installations.



This kidnapping follows other recent threats and killings against USO

trade unionists over the last year. (UA 170/01 issued 10 July 2001;

UA 230/01 issued 12 September 2001 and follow-ups) as well as the

arrest of six USO leaders by the security forces on 19 October. The

security and armed forces as well as their paramilitary allies often

accuse trade unionists of being guerrilla sympathizers or auxiliaries.

In addition, paramilitaries frequently harass, torture and kill trade

unionists. In 2001, around 160 trade unionists have been killed and at

least 68 'disappeared'. During 2000, 112 trade union leaders and

members were murdered. In December 2000, a leading trade union

leader, Wilson Borja Diaz, had to flee Colombia after he was shot and

wounded by gunmen (UA 387/00 issued 21 December 2000). Several

active and retired police officers have been linked to the attack by

judicial investigations.



RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

as possible:

- urging the authorities to order an independent, impartial and

conclusive investigation into the possible 'disappearance' of Gilberto

Torres Martinez and for those responsible to be brought to justice;

- urging that the authorities undertake immediate action to guarantee

the safety of Gilberto Torres Martinez;

-expressing concern for the safety of USO and other trade union

activists in Casanare and nationally following the possible

'disappearance' of Gilberto Torres Martinez;

- asking the authorities what measures, deemed appropriate by those

under threat themselves, they are going to take to guarantee the

safety of those at risk;

 calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the

security forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of

Casanare 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 action to dismantle

paramilitary groups, in line with stated government commitments and

recommendations made by the UN and other intergovernmental




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

Fax: 011 57 1 566 2071

Salutation: Dear President Pastrana Arango / Excmo. Sr.

Presidente Pastrana Arango


Minister of Interior:

Sr. Armando Estrada Villa

Ministro del Interior

Ministerio del Interior

Palacio Echeverry

Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.

Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 562 5298 (if someone answers say 'me da

tono de fax por favor')

Salutation: Dear Sir / Sr. Ministro


Commander of the Armed Forces:

General Fernando Tapias Stahelin,

Comandante General de las Fuerzas Militares

Avenida El Dorado - Carrera 52,

Santafe de Bogota, Colombia

Telegrams: Comandante Fuerzas Militares, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 222 2096

Salutation: Dear Commander Tapias Stahelin / Sr. General

Tapias Stahelin



Trade Union Confederation:

CUT, Nacional

Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia

Calle 35 N0 7-25, Piso 9

Santafe de 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 April 10, 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

Email: uan@aiusa.org


Phone: 303 258 1170

Fax: 303 258 7881