Document - Colombia: Fear for safety / Possible extrajudicial execution
EXTERNALAI Index: AMR 23/84/97
UA 386/97 Fear for safety / Possible Extrajudicial
execution 9 December 1997
COLOMBIAJosé María Cárdenas, killed
María Eugenia Cárdenas and her family
members of ASFADDES
There is grave concern for the safety of María Eugenia Cárdenas, her family and members of Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos, ASFADDES, Association of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared, following the possible extrajudicial execution of José María Cárdenas, the cousin of María Eugenia Cárdenas.
According to reports, at 9am on 3 December 1997, while José María Cardenas, the head of a family of six, was cutting sugar cane in the village of Bajo Pirza in the department of Caldas, he was abducted by two heavily armed men wearing army uniforms. His severely mutilated body was found the next day on the banks of the nearby Ríosucio river.
Members of the Cárdenas family have suffered repeated human right violations over a number of years. In 1992, for example, members of the army were reportedly responsible for the “disappearance” of Eduardo Aníbal Cárdenas García, Miguel Angel Cárdenas García, Francisco Javier Cárdenas García, Adrian de Jesús Cárdenas García and Anibal Cárdenas Largo, the father and brothers of María Eugenia Cárdenas. The whereabouts of all five remain unknown. Subsequently, the family received repeated death threats and María Eugenia Cárdenas was forced to leave the village of Bajo Pirza.
There is serious concern for the safety of the María Eugenia Cárdenas, her family and other members of ASFADDES, as in the past those urging the authorities to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses, have often themselves become the target of human rights violations.
María Eugenia Cárdenas was director of the regional office of ASFADDES in Ríosucio, department of Caldas, until the office was forced to close after she was subjected to a campaign of harassment and an unidentified individual threatened to blow up the ASFADDES office (see UA 191/97, AMR 23/43/97, 27 June 1997, and update AMR 23/64/97, 27 August).
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 for the physical safety of María Eugenia Cárdenas and her family in Caldas department and all members of ASFADDES nationwide;
- urging the authorities to take all appropriate steps to guarantee the physical safety of those named above;
- calling for a thorough investigation into the abduction and killing of José María Cárdenas, for the results to be made public, and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Carrera 8 No. 7-26
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:President Samper Pizano, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes:44281 PALP CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 284 2186/289 3377/286 7434
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente / Dear President Samper
Minister of Defence
Dr.Gilberto Echeverri Mejía
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 222 1874
Salutation:Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
Governor of the department of Caldas
Señora Pilar Villegas de Hoyos
Gobernadora del Departamento de Caldas
Gobernación de Caldas
Carrera 21, Calle 22 y 23
Faxes: +57 68 842204
Telegrams: Gobernadora, Caldas, Colombia
Salutation: Sra. Gobernadora / Dear Governor
Association for Relatives of the "Disappeared"
AA 011446, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
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,Colombia
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 30 January 1998.