Document - Colombia: Fear for safety: members of the Asociacion de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos (ASFADDES)
EXTERNALAI Index: AMR 23/43/97
UA 191/97 Fear for safety27 June 1997
COLOMBIAMembers of the Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos (ASFADDES), human rights organization
At 10.15pm on 24 June 1997 a bomb exploded in the building housing the regional office of the Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos (ASFADDES), Association of Relatives of the Detained and “Disappeared”, in Medellín, Antioquia department. Several people who were in the building were injured, none of them members of ASFADDES, and the explosion destroyed all the organization’s files and archives. The building also houses the offices of several trade union organizations.
ASFADDES believes that the attack is the latest attempt to intimidate it into halting its human rights activities. The bombing occurred at a time when several crucial cases of “disappearance” on which ASFADDES is campaigning are coming to court. Members of the armed forces and paramilitaries organizations are implicated in a number of these “disappearances”.
In recent years members of ASFADDES have faced repeated threats and acts of intimidation by members of the military and their paramilitary allies as a result of the organization’s human rights work. Some members have had to flee the country as a result. The bomb attack of 24 June has seriously heightened concern for the safety of all ASFADDES members.
The number of threats and attacks against human rights defenders in Colombia, including killings, have significantly increased during the last year.
Human rights lawyers and members of human rights organizations are increasingly at risk in Colombia, despite presidential promises to ensure their safety. On 9 September 1994, President Ernesto Samper Pizano declared in a speech that his government "would seek to have constructive relations with human rights organizations with the aim of suppressing human rights violations and would do everything necessary to protect the lives and the integrity of their members" ("Buscará sostener con los organismos de derechos humanos relaciones constructivas en procura de suprimir las violaciones de tales derechos y pondrá de su parte cuanto sea necesario para proteger la vida y la integridad de sus miembros").
Furthermore, President Samper has repeatedly pledged his government's commitment to protect human rights and tackle impunity. However, members of the Colombian armed and security forces, together with their paramilitary allies, continue to commit serious violations with virtual impunity. Trade unionists, popular leaders, civic activists and human rights workers are amongst those frequently targeted. Only in exceptional circumstances are perpetrators brought to justice; the vast majority of members of the armed forces responsible for gross human rights violations remain in active service.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail letters in Spanish, English, or your own language:
- expressing deep concern at the bomb attack against the office of the Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos (ASFADDES), in Medellín, Antioquia department;
- calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack and the repeated threats against ASFADDES, for the results to be made public, and for those responsible to be brought to justice;
- urging that, in line with President Samper's declared commitment to protect the lives of human rights defenders, all possible measures be taken to protect those working with ASFADDES;
- urging the authorities to take immediate measures to dismantle paramilitary groups in line with stated governmental commitments.
1) President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafé de Bogotá,
Telegrams: President Samper Pizano, Bogotá, Colombia
Tx: 44281 PALP CO
Fax: + 57 1 284 21 86/286 3782/289 3377/286 7434
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Samper
2) Minister of the Interior
Dr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García
Ministro del Interior
Ministerio del Interior
Carrera 8, No.8-09, Piso 2
Santafé de Bogotá
Fax:+ 57 1 286 6524/281 5884/286 0053
Telegrams: Ministro del Interior, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:45406 MINGO CO
Salutation:Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
3) Minister of Defence
Dr.Gilberto Echeverri Mejía
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá,
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes: + 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
4) Attorney General
Dr.Alfonso Gómez Méndez
Fiscal General de la Nación
Fiscalia General de la Nación
Calle 35 No. 4-31
Apartado Aéreo 29855
Santafé de Bogotá
Telegrams:Fiscal General, Fiscalia General, Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 287 0939/288 2828
Salutation: Estimado Dr.Gómez /Dear Dr.Gómez
Association for Relatives of the "Disappeared"
Santafé de Bogotá
and to diplomatic representatives of Colombia accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 August 1997.