Mass Arbitrary Detention of Peasant Farmers in Colombia
News from Colombia |
on: Tuesday, 31 March 2009
At least 25 peasant farmers from the Colombian region of Santander have been rounded up by police and soldiers and thrown in jail accused of 'rebellion'. The men, who are all well-known in their communities, have reportedly not been told what they are supposed to have done and no evidence against them has been provided. In what human rights groups have described as "a gross and flagrant violation of the presumption of innocence" the men were paraded on TV news as captured guerrillas – presumably in an effort by the security forces to demonstrate success in the war against the insurgency.
The farmers were all arrested on the morning of March 29th after police raided their homes in the municipalities of Socotto, Simacota, Chima and El Hato – all in Santander – and were later transferred to the nearby city of Bucaramanga. According to family members and other witnesses the police and soldiers were, in some case, accompanied by masked men in civilian clothes though it is not clear who they were.
The United Nations has strongly criticised Colombia for continuing to carry out mass arbitrary detentions and has suggested that the evidence being used to justify such operations is untrustworthy and/or from deeply flawed military intelligence documents that have led to numerous innocent people being jailed. In many cases those targeted for detention are community leaders, trade union members or other civil society activists.
Jan 2008, Mass Detention in Arauca
Nov 2007, Mass Detention in Meta