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Colombia: Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's campaigner has feet scalded and head shaved in savage attack

As 22-year-old Ines Pena was driven around the city by the two men, who are thought to be army-backed paramilitaries, her feet were reportedly scalded with boiling water and her head shaved. As she was being tortured, she was told 'That's because we want you out of OFP.'

Amnesty International has issued an alert to its membership, requesting that they write urgently to the authorities calling for a full investigation and effective protection for human rights defenders in Colombia.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Lesley Warner said:

'If paramilitaries are able to attack with impunity those who stand up for human rights in Colombia, the situation there will never improve.

'There should be a full investigation of this and other attacks. Those responsible must be brought to justice.'

Other members of the OFP have also been attacked. On 27 January, a humanitarian delegation made up of several non-governmental organisations sailed from Barrancabermeja harbour to the municipality of San Pablo, in the south of Bolivar department. The delegation consisted of two members from the OFP and others from the Norwegian Refugee Council, Project Counselling Service and Peace Brigades International. They were going to San Pablo to monitor progress on an OFP housing project for poor people.

During the trip, the delegation passed through an army checkpoint. Fifteen minutes later, several armed men on the right bank of the river made signals for them to stop by waving a white cloth. The delegation ignored the signals which resulted in the armed men firing shots at the boat. The delegation managed to escape without injury and reported the attack to the authorities. It is not known however, whether an investigation into the incident is being carried out.

During 2002 more than 4,000 civilians were killed for political motives in Colombia, with over 1,000 people 'disappeared'. At least 2,700 people were abducted, some 1,500 of whom by armed opposition groups and paramilitaries.

A recent Amnesty International report stated that between July 1996 and June 2001 over 1,200 people were tortured in the country. Reports indicate that in around 55% of the cases, torture is committed by army-backed paramilitaries, 11% directly by the security forces and almost 7% by armed opposition groups.

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