Comisión Colombiana de Juristas reports:

Sharp Upturn in Deaths due to Political Violence


The following communication was released by the Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, or Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) on February 26, 2001.


The Colombian Commission of Jurists takes this opportunity to release the results of its study on the situation of sociopolitical violence and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law during the sixth-month period from April to September 2000. This is the most recent period for which we have processed data.

As is clear from the numbers, the deterioration in the situation is alarming, as the number of persons killed each day for sociopolitical reasons has doubled in the last two years. There were approximately 20 persons per day killed during the period studied. The daily average from 1988 to 1997, already uncommonly high, was 10 persons killed daily for political reasons in Colombia. In 1998 and 1999 that average had increased to 12 victims daily, by early 2000 it had climbed to 14. The fact that there are now 20 persons a day killed in political violence is a dramatic reflection of the barbarity that we are suffering, day after day, in Colombia. To this should be added the tragedy of the displaced persons, who once again numbered over 300,000 in the year 2000, a matter which we will consider in more depth in a forthcoming report.

Five of the 20 victims daily were killed in combat, including civilians and combatants. The remaining 15 were assassinated in their homes, in public places, or in their workplace. More than 15% lost their lives due to actions by the guerrilla forces. The other 85% died due to state or paramilitary actions. In the last two years this ratio was 20% to 80%. And from 1988 to 1997 it had been 30% to 70%. The striking increase in the number of victims most recently is related to the increase in paramilitary activities and the absence of effective government action to prevent, contain, or reduce these activities.

On recording this dramatic situation, the Colombian Commission of Jurists laments that the state authorities are more devoted to making enormous efforts in the area of propaganda than to achieving real results in respect for and protection of human rights. Several announcements and publications have been released by the Government in recent months to give the impression that it is combating the agents who perpetrate these violations. In the best of cases, the raw facts indicate the total incompetence in confronting them, if not tolerance for or complicity with them.

In coming days we will round out this panorama with other reports, including an analysis of the draft legislation in the Senate designed to create new mechanisms of impunity for the armed forces and police, empowering them to arrest persons without a judicial warrant, reviving provisions of law that permit the legal existence of the paramilitary groups, and introducing anti-democratic concepts in the organization of the state, such as "national power" and "national objectives" to which all inhabitants of Colombia would have subjected.

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