Colombia: President Uribe must reaffirm commitment to human rights
â€œThe meeting was frank and respectful and Amnesty International reaffirmed the importance of continuing the dialogue the organisation has maintained with successive Colombian governmentsâ€, Javier ZÃºÃ±iga said.
Amnesty International expressed its concern at recent statements by President Uribe in which he accused the organisation of, â€œthrough its words and actions, [wanting] terrorism to triumph in Colombiaâ€.
â€œSuch accusations are unfounded and unacceptable and put the legitimate work of human rights organisations, both within Colombia and abroad, at riskâ€, said Javier ZÃºÃ±iga.
The President recognized the legitimacy of the work carried out by Amnesty International and human rights defenders and said that it was his duty to protect NGOs.
For its part, the organisation reaffirmed the importance of the Office in Colombia of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
â€œThe UN recommendations and the London Agreement set the essential framework for resolving the human rights crisis,â€ Javier ZÃºÃ±iga said.
Amnesty International also reiterated its total condemnation of the human rights violations and abuses committed by the security forces, army-backed paramilitaries, and guerrilla groups.
The organisation recognized that there had been a marked drop in certain indicators of political violence such as kidnappings and displacement.
However, it expressed its concern about the negative impact the governmentâ€™s democratic security policy has had on human rights. This policy has not only strengthened impunity and dragged civilians further into the conflict but has also led to an increase in the number of mass arrests carried out by the security forces.
â€œThe relentless pursuit of human rights defenders and social activists by means of mass and often arbitrary arrests is unacceptableâ€, Javier ZÃºÃ±iga said.
The death of Fredy Arias Arias, the coordinator of the Human Rights Programme run by the Kankuama Indigenous Organisation, on 3 August in the city of Valledupar, allegedly at the hands of paramilitaries, illustrates the urgency of taking effective measures to protect the civilian population.
Over 90 Kankuamos have died in the past two years, mainly at the hands of paramilitaries who supposedly declared a cessation of hostilities in December 2002.
Amnesty International also expressed its deep concern at the deaths yesterday of three trade union leaders in the department of Arauca at the hands of the army.
The civilian justice system should carry out a serious investigation into the events surrounding the deaths of:
An Amnesty International delegation is visiting Colombia between 1 and 8 August 2004.
The delegation, which is headed by Javier ZÃºÃ±iga, Senior Director-Regions, also includes Susan Lee, Regional Program Director- Americas, Eric Olson, advocacy director for the Americas in the United States Section of Amnesty International and Marcelo Pollack, Colombia Researcher.
Find out more about Colombia...