The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó

The Peace Community of San José de Apartadó was created in March 1997, when people living in villages in the municipality of Apartadó, north-western Colombia, pledged not to be drawn into the conflict

which for more than 40 years has pitted the security forces and paramilitaries against guerilla groups.

The civilian population undertook:

  • Not to participate in the war in any direct or indirect form;
  • Not to carry arms;
  • Not to manipulate or give information to any of the parties involved in armed conflict;
  • Not to ask any of the parties to solve conflicts.
  • To seek a peaceful solution and to engage in dialogue as a way to solve the conflict in the country.

Their stance has met with suspicion and hostility from the army, its paramilitary allies and the guerrillas. Since 1997, more than 170 members of the Peace Community have been killed or subjected to enforced disappearance, while others have been threatened; some women have been the target of sexual violence.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States first ordered the Colombian authorities to protect the San José Peace Community on 17 December 1997. In a Resolution on 15 March 2005, the Court reiterated that the Colombian authorities should take all steps necessary to guarantee the safety of all the members of the Peace Community, as they themselves deemed appropriate. The Court issued another order on 6 February 2008 calling for immediate action from Colombia on behalf of the Community. However, to date, the Colombian authorities have failed to take effective action to implement the Court's orders, thus falling short of their obligations under international law.

Our local group has been writing regularly to the President of Colombia and to the Minister of Defence, copied to the Colombian Ambassador in London and to the Peace Community itself, informing them of the latest assaults on the Community and reminding them of their responsibilities and commitments, and the recommendations made by the United Nations and other intergovernmental organisations. We also send the Community itself regular cards to express our solidarity and hopes for a peaceful future for them and their families.

(For more information on the Peace Committee, please go to its website: www.cdpsanjose.org (Spanish only, though some content in English if you click on “idiomas”).

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