Colombian NGOs Call for Further UN Action


With a united voice, 56 Colombian non-governmental and social organizations in a letter to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights 57th session. The organizations supported the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights in Colombia's (OUNHCHR) report (E/CN.4/2000/8) that "human rights have not been given sufficiently high-priority treatment by the Government, nor have international recommendations been followed." (par. 168). The organizations' correspondence also included recommendations to the Commission. Following are excerpts of the letter:


The OUNHCHR has adequately fulfilled its dual mandate, yet the Colombian Government continues to disregard its recommendations, resulting in continued deterioration of the human rights and international humanitarian law situation.

Regarding the deaths and disappearances for which the alleged perpetrators are known, 79.95% are attributed to government agents: 2.44% directly (29 victims) and 77.51% indirectly through paramilitary groups, (920 victims). Guerrilla groups are purportedly the perpetrators of 20.05% of these cases (238 victims). (Colombian Commission of Jurists' (CCJ) Data Bank.)

The population subjected to forced displacement has continued to rise as a result of the escalated armed conflict and, on occasion, in efforts to facilitate the completion of large-scale projects. It is estimated that over 300,000 people were displaced in 2000, while government policies have been inadequate to prevent the phenomenon and take care of victims' needs. (Consultancy on Human Rights and Displacement.)

"Plan Colombia", which was approved by the United States Congress, will intensify internal confrontations and increase human rights and humanitarian law violations, as is already the case in the Putumayo region.

The security forces have admitted that they do not confront paramilitary groups. A Ministry of Defense report states that results of efforts against paramilitary groups "can hardly be proportional due to the fact that guerrilla groups attack and confront Security Forces &ldots;., self-defense groups shy away from actions against the forces of law and order and have a policy of non-confrontation, which yields fewer opportunities to cause casualties and captures among their ranks." ("La Fuerza Pública y los Derechos Humanos en Colombia", March 2000.) Further verification is provided in the High Commissioner's third report on Colombia, which states, "This Office has been witness to statements by high-ranking Army Officers that paramilitary groups do not threaten constitutional security and consequently, it is not the Army's responsibility to combat them."

The signatory organizations support efforts favoring a negotiated solution to armed conflict. The quest for peace must go hand-in-hand with a serious human rights policy, which the government does not have at the present time. This policy must guarantee victims' rights to truth, reparation and just sanctions for responsible parties. We demand respect from the armed participants for the rights of non-combatants, as well as signing of humanitarian agreements.

Consequently, we ask this Commission to do the following:

Based on the High Commissioner's report, vigorously show your deep concern for the human rights crisis in Colombia, as well as for repeated breaches of recommendations made.

Strengthen OUNHCR's mandate in Colombia by ensuring adequate financing, supporting its work and urging the Colombian government to follow its recommendations.

Ask the High Commissioner to present its report on Colombia to the United Nations General Assembly.

Name a Special Rapporteur for Colombia as a complementary mechanism to support the OUNHCHR to help ensure compliance with international recommendations.

Make a special call to countries providing military aid to Colombia so that such aid not be used to violate human rights and, that a condition thereto be compliance with repeated United Nations recommendations.

Decide on all of the foregoing through a Resolution, due to the lack of cooperation by the Colombian government, as seen in its repeated breaches of international recommendations.


Bogotá, Colombia, December 2000


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