20 September 2001


UA 240/01 Fear for Safety/Extrajudicial Execution


Yolanda Ceron

Members of Catholic Church organization

Pastoral Social, and other human rights

defenders in Tumaco, department of Narino


On 19 September 2001, Yolanda Ceron, human rights defender and

Director of the Catholic Church organization Pastoral Social, was

killed by two gunmen thought to be members of army-backed

paramilitary forces in the town of Tumaco, department of Narino.


Yolanda left her office around noon and as she approached Narino

Park, in central Tumaco, several shots were fired at her. She was

transported to hospital in Tumaco, where she was pronounced dead

soon after arriving as eight shots had fatally wounded her. For

several days prior to her killing, Yolanda reportedly informed her

Pastoral Social colleagues that their offices were under constant

surveillance, that she was being harassed and that she was being

followed by unidentified men.


Yolanda and other members of Pastoral Social have campaigned

against the increasingly grave human rights situation in the region

and have provided assistance to victims. Her death raises serious

concerns for the safety of members of Pastoral Social, other human

rights defenders, and the civilian population of Tumaco. It also

heightens concerns for neighboring communities, whose inhabitants

are predominantly Afro-Colombians and members of indigenous



Paramilitaries backed by the security forces began operating in

Tumaco in September 2000 and threatened to kill human rights

defenders shortly afterwards. A number of human rights activists

have actually been killed (2 April 2001 - Further information on UA

382/00 19 December 2000; UA 206/01, 17 August 2001).



The Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies

commit serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. In the

last five years alone, several thousand civilians have been killed. The

security forces, who maintain a heavy military presence in the region,

have responded by reportedly capturing a number of paramilitaries. In

1989, the government suspended the constitutional legal base for the

formation of paramilitary organizations and issued directives to the

armed forces to combat and disband such groups. However,

paramilitaries continue to work with the support of the security forces

in many areas of the country.


Armed opposition groups have also committed serious violations of

international humanitarian law, including executions of those they

accuse of being security force or paramilitary force collaborators.


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly

as possible:

- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the 19 September

killing of Yolanda Ceron, human rights defender and Director of the

Catholic Church organization Pastoral Social, and into recent attacks

on human rights defenders in the region;

- expressing concern for the safety of members of Pastoral Social,

other human rights defenders in Tumaco and the civilian inhabitants

of the region;

- urging the authorities to do everything deemed appropriate by those

under threat to guarantee their safety;

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

security forces and paramilitary groups operating in Tumaco,

department of Narino, 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

United Nations 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


Telegram: President, Bogota, Colombia

Fax: 011 57 1 566 2071 / 286 7434 / 286 6842 / 284 2186

Salutation: Dear President / Excmo. Sr. Presidente


Minister of Defence

Dr. Gustavo Bell

Ministro de Defensa Nacional

Ministerio de Defensa Nacional

Centro Administrativeo Nacional

Avenida Eldorado - Carrera 52, OFI 217

Santafe de Bogota


Telegram: Ministro de Defensa, Bogota, Colombia

Telex: 396 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO

Faxes: 011 57 1 222 0059

Salutation: Dear Minister / Sr. Ministro


Commander of the Marine Infantry Training Base BEIM2

Lieutenant Colonel Nicolas Montenegro Montenegro

Commander of BEIM 2 (Base de Entrenamiento de Infanteria de

Marina Apostadero Naval

Tumaco, Narino

Telegrams: Comandante BEIM2, Tumaco, Colombia

Telefax: 011 57 927 272 821

Salutation: Sr Comandante.



National non-governmental human rights organization

Pastoral Social

Diocesis de Tumaco

Tumaco, Narino



Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno

Embassy of Colombia

2118 Leroy Pl. NW

Washington DC 20008

Fax: 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 November 20, 2001.


Urgent Action Network

Amnesty International USA

PO Box 1270

Nederland CO 80466-1270


Phone: 303 258 1170

Fax: 303 258 7881