Colombia

Victims' organisations urge to implement measures for the Disappeared

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Victims’ organisations call for Government to implement, in consultation with civil society organisations, the measures agreed in Havana on finding the remains of the disappeared

More than 40 victims and human rights organisations issued a statement on 21 January to urge the Colombian government to implement the humanitarian measures included in an agreement on the disappeared announced in October 2015 (Comunicado Conjunto #62) in consultation with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

According to the agreement (Comunicado Conjunto #62) between the FARC and the Colombian government humanitarian measures were to be set in motion immediately. These measures included the creation of a Special Unit to search for persons deemed as missing within the context of and due to the armed conflict.

On 21 January 2016, victims’ organisations published a statement urging the Colombian Government and the FARC to demonstrate their political will to implement the content of their Joint Agreement (Comunicado Conjunto #62) [1]. Despite stating in October that both parties would immediately provide the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with all the relevant information on forced disappearances that had occurred during FARC or Government military operations, victims are still waiting for this to happen.

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination’s (CCEEU) Working Group on Forced Disappearance called on the Government to consult with them on the implementation of the Protocol, Plan and technical measures for the search, identification and dignified return of the remains. They also highlight the importance of quarterly reports that outline the advances and the resources dedicated to the process.

In their statement (Spanish only), victims and human rights groups have indicated that they plan to submit their recommendations to the different parties taking part in the Peace Talks by mid-February.

Background

According to the Colombian Government Ombudsperson, more than 63,800 people have been officially reported missing. The Victims Unit has recorded 45,000 Enforced Disappearances and in December 2013, the Prosecutor General’s Office was reported to be “investigating the disappearance of 45,154 people who are thought to be buried in mass graves”[2]. As November 2015 the Prosecutor General’s office reported that 6,480 bodies had been exhumed.

The National Register of Victims in the Prosecutor General’s Office also lists 14,181 children missing. As of 2013 the unidentified remains of more than 4,210 children had been found in mass graves [3].

According to the Justice and Peace Unit in the Prosecutor General’s Office as of May 2011, the families of victims had registered 32,000 forced disappearances perpetrated by paramilitaries [4]. The AUC paramilitaries to date have confessed to forcibly disappearing 7,020 many of whom were social and political leaders, human rights defenders and trade unionists. Former members of the AUC have also informed the Office of Justice and Peace of a total of 1,025 graves [5].

Notes:

[1] See Comunicado Conjunto #62

[2] International Commission on Missing Persons

[3] CCEEU, Boletín 1 de Mesa de trabajo Sobre Desaparición Forzada

[4] CCEEU, Desapariciones forzadas, En búsqueda de la justicia, pages 13-14 (June 2012)

[5] Colombia Reports, 45,000 missing persons in Colombia thought to be in mass graves (December 2013)

More information:

• Read ABColombia article on the FARC and Colombian government agreement on the Disappeared

• Read FARC and Colombian Government joint statement on the Special Unit for Disappeared People (in Spanish)

• Read Statement on the agreement for the Disappeared by the Working Group on Forced Disappearances (Only in Spanish)