PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/102/00
UA 382/00 Fear for Safety 19 December 2000
COLOMBIACivilian inhabitants of the Buchely, La Espriella, Caunapí, Llorente,
Kilómetros 58, 63 and 86, El Carmen, Pueblo Nuevo, Tangereal
ICA, Cajapí, Chilví, Guayacana, El Diviso, Junín, Altaquer,
Ricaurte, and Piedrancha districts of Tumaco, department
Members of Catholic Church organization Pastoral Social in Tumaco.
Army-backed paramilitary groups have reportedly threatened raids on the above
districts of the city of Tumaco, in the department of Nariño, listed above.
The paramilitaries have also reportedly threatened to kill members of the
Catholic Church organization Pastoral Social, which works with poor communities
In the past few weeks paramilitary groups have threatened to launch an attack
on Llorente, raising concerns for the safety of the neighbouring communities
listed above. The civilian inhabitants of these districts are predominantly
Afro-Colombians and members of indigenous communities.
Paramilitary forces have established a strong presence in Tumaco and have
reportedly carried out frequent patrols through the city, despite the fact
that the Colombian armed forces maintain a heavy presence in the city.
Members of Pastoral Social are reported to have received death threats shortly
after paramilitary forces announced their “arrival” in the city. On 13 September
a member of Pastoral Social received an anonymous telephone call: “Hijueputa,
los vamos a matar a todos, a Ustedes ya los conocemos”, “Sons of bitches, we
are going to kill all of you, we know who you are”.
Pastoral Social used to produce a radio program on which local people could
air grievances and raise issues of concern in the city. The program was suspended
in early September, reportedly after the producer was threatened. The
paramilitaries are believed to have been behind the threats.
The Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies commit
serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. In the last five years
several thousand civilians have been killed by paramilitary groups. The
Colombian government suspended the constitutional legal base for the formation
of paramilitary organizations and issued directives to the armed forces to
combat and disband such groups in 1989, yet they continue to work with the
support of the security forces in many areas of the country.
Guerrilla forces have also committed serious violations of international
humanitarian law, including executions of those they accuse of being security
force or paramilitary force collaborators.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of the civilian inhabitants of the districts
of Tumaco listed above, in the light of reports that paramilitaries are planning
to attack the Llorente district of Tumaco;
- expressing concern for the members of Pastoral Social working in Tumaco,
urging that full and impartial investigations into death threats against them