Amnesty International is highlighting major human rights concerns in Colombia ahead of parliamentary elections in the country on Sunday (9 March).
Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty’s researcher on Colombia, is available for interview on the general human rights situation and on the following specific areas:
• Paramilitaries - Paramilitaries have not been disbanded despite their supposed demobilisation in a government-sponsored process that began in 2005. They are responsible for multiple human rights violations.
• Guerrilla groups - Guerrilla groups are responsible for serious human rights abuses, including unlawful killings, hostage-taking, use of landmines, recruitment of children and forced displacement.
• Human rights defenders - Dozens of human rights defenders, including community leaders and trade unionists, were killed in 2013. The authorities are not doing enough to protect them from attacks.
• The security forces - Although the number of extrajudicial executions is far lower than in previous years, there are continued reports of such crimes. Scant progress has been made in investigating these killings, with many cases being transferred to the military justice system.
• Land restitution - The 2011 Victims and Land Restitution Law could have a positive impact on the lives of many victims. However, it is hampered by serious shortcomings, especially in terms of security for land claimants.
• Impunity - Recent legislation risks undermining the limited progress made by ordinary civilian courts in ending impunity for human rights abuses and violations committed by all the parties to the conflict.
Marcelo Pollack said:
“Despite the ongoing peace talks between the government and the FARC guerrilla group, the human rights situation in Colombia remains serious.
“Indigenous people, Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities, as well as human rights defenders, trade unionists and community leaders, are still bearing the brunt of human rights abuses and violations committed by the security forces, guerrilla groups and paramilitaries.
“Congressional candidates of all parties must put human rights and the fight against impunity at the top of their agendas.”