UN Says Army Systematically Killing Civilians in Colombia
News from Colombia |
on: Saturday, 1 November 2008
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has accused the Colombian Army of carrying out "widespread and systematic" murders of civilians. Navi Pillay, who today concluded a fact-finding mission to Colombia, also denounced ongoing forced displacement and arbitrary detentions and said she was concerned that "several indicators point to persistent and deeply entrenched human rights challenges".
Ms Pillay, who was visiting Colombia for the first time, explained how "civil society representatives, including human rights and women NGOs, victims associations and trade unions, impressed me with their sophistication and commitment to promote and protect human rights" but said that she was very concerned as such people "continue to be stigmatized and often targeted or threatened for their work."
As well as the Colombian capital Bogota, the High Commissioner visited the province of Arauca. "Both in Bogota and Arauca, I heard heart breaking testimony of many relatives who stated that their loved ones had been arrested and detained often for periods of two years or more on the basis of not always well founded accusations," she said.
Pillay also found that paramilitary groups "continue to victimise and target the civilian population". This contradicts claims by the Colombian regime that the paramilitaries no longer exist. Her call for respect for the independence of the judiciary was a clear reference to recent verbal attacks by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on members of the Supreme Court.
See also Massive Increase in Civilians Being Murdered by Colombian Army (Oct 29th)