PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/14/00
UA 61/00 Fear for Safety 15 March 2000
COLOMBIAMembers of the non-governmental human rights organization Comisión
Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
Inhabitants of the municipality of Dabeiba and neighbouring municipalities,
including forcibly displaced communities in the department of
On 9 March 2000, around 200 suspected paramilitaries reportedly set up camp
near to the town of Dabeiba with a stated aim to “hacer limpieza”, “cleanse
the area”. Their arrival, and a number of recent killings in the area, has
heightened Amnesty International’s concern for the safety of people living
in Dabeiba and neighbouring towns in the department of Antioquia.
This concern extends to displaced communities sheltering there as well as
members of the non-governmental human rights organization, Comisión
Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz, Intercongregational Commission of
Justice and Peace, who work closely with them. Displaced communities, and the
human rights workers who assist them, are frequently labelled as guerrilla
sympathizers by the armed forces and their paramilitary allies and as such
have been exposed to serious human rights violations by paramilitaries.
The day before the camp was set up, husband and wife Jorge and Magdalena were
reportedly killed by paramilitaries in Dabeiba.
On 19 February, paramilitaries reportedly shot dead five people in the community
of San José de Apartadó, department of Antioquia, despite a heavy military
presence in the area. San José de Apartadó is a community of some 1,000 people
displaced from the Urabá region of north-western Colombia in 1996 and 1997
as a result of paramilitary and guerilla violence (see UA 42/00, AMR 23/08/00,
21 February 2000).
In recent days large numbers of paramilitaries have been reported to have been
travelling between Frontino and Chigorodó, a heavily militarised municipality
north of Dabeiba. Furthermore, paramilitaries were reported to have held a
meeting in La Caleta, a farm in the municipality of Turbo used by displaced
The gunmen, mostly in military attire, reportedly set up camp in an area known
as La Base and at the El Jague farm, a short distance from the town of Dabeiba.
They appear to have been allowed to do this despite a heavy military presence
in Dabeiba - the scene of intense fighting over the last year between security
forces and their paramilitary auxiliaries against armed opposition groups
operating in the area. On 9 March, the day the camp was set up, police in Dabeiba
were reportedly ordered to stay in their barracks.
On 11 November 1999, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on behalf
of Diana Salamanca Martínez, who works for the Comisión Intercongregational
de Justicia y Paz, after she was abducted by paramilitaries in Dabeiba. Diana
Martínez, who was released three days later, had been working closely with
the displaced communities (see EXTRA 158/99, AMR 23/79/99 and follow ups).
Members of the Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies
continue to commit serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. Over