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Colombia: Fear for Safety/Extrajudicial Execution - Killed: Jesús Ramiro ZAPATA HOYOS, human rights defender

, Index number: AMR 23/030/2000

Human rights defender Jesús Ramiro Zapata Hoyos was abducted and killed by gunmen on 3 May. Amnesty International is extremely concerned for the security of other human rights defenders in the department of Antioquia.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/30/00
UA 108/00 Fear for Safety/Extrajudicial Execution 5 May 2000
COLOMBIAHuman rights defenders
Killed: Jesús Ramiro ZAPATA HOYOS, human rights defender
Human rights defender Jesús Ramiro Zapata Hoyos was abducted and killed by
gunmen on 3 May. Amnesty International is extremely concerned for the security
of other human rights defenders in the department of Antioquia.
Jesús Ramiro Zapata Hoyos was a leading member of the Comité de Derechos Humanos
del Nordeste (Northeastern Human Rights Committee) and the Colectivo de Derechos
Humanos Semillas de Libertad (Human Rights Collective, Seeds of Liberty), an
umbrella organisation of human rights NGOs.
He was apparently abducted from a bar in the municipality of Segovia, department
of Antioquia. The next morning an unidentified caller told his family to collect
the body from the outskirts of Segovia.
The day he was abducted Jesús Ramiro had reported to local authorities that:
“Del 15 de abril al viernes 28 han preguntado 8 veces por algunos paramilitares
nuevos que no me conocen”, “Between 15 and Friday 28 April new paramilitaries
in the area who do not know me have enquired about my whereabouts eight times”.
On 3 April 2000, a group of 500 paramilitaries had reportedly entered the
municipality of Segovia and the neighbouring municipality of Remedios and camped
in the area of Otu, in Remedios. A large number of troops are stationed in
the area, but did nothing to confront them.
The Segovia Human Rights Committee, a non-governmental human rights
organization, has played an important part in denouncing human rights violations
in the area, including a joint armed forces-paramilitary incursion in the town
of Segovia in April 1996 during which at least 17 people were killed or
“disappeared”. An army captain was convicted last year for his part in the
massacre in collaboration with paramilitary forces, after judicial
investigations. Human rights defenders and others who denounce human rights
violations and the strong links between the armed forces and paramilitary forces
have themselves been accused of human rights violations committed by the
security forces or their paramilitary allies.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Paramilitary groups have killed several thousand civilians over the past five
years, and the Colombian army and security forces and their paramilitary allies
continue to commit serious human rights violations with virtual impunity. 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.
The security forces and their paramilitary allies have frequently labeled human
rights organizations as guerrilla collaborators or supporters, so they can
present them as legitimate targets in the counter-insurgency war. At least
25 human rights defenders have been killed or “disappeared” in the last three
years. Some armed opposition groups also refuse to respect the legitimacy and
independence of organisations which belong to civil society.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Spanish or your own language:
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- expressing concern at the possible extrajudicial execution of Jesús Ramiro
Zapata, and urging a full and impartial investigation into the killing, for
the results to be made public and those responsible to be brought to justice;
- expressing concern for the safety of members of the Comité de Derechos Humanos
del Nordeste and the Colectivo de Derechos Humanos Semillas de Libertad, and
urging that all measures they deem appropriate are taken to guarantee their
safety;
- urging the Colombian government to adhere to its obligations regarding human
rights defenders, as laid out in the UN Declaration on the Right and
Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of_Society to Promote and
Protect Universally Recognized_Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms adopted
on 9 December 1998, and the Organization of American States Human Rights
Defenders in the Americas resolution adopted on 7 June 1999 [AG/RES. 1671
(XXIX-O/99)]and in line with repeated recommendations made by the UN to the
Colombian Government;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the security
forces and paramilitary groups operating in the department of Antioquia, urging
that the results are made public and those found responsible for supporting
and participating in such groups be brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary
groups, in line with stated government commitments and UN recommendations.
APPEALS TO:
President of the Republic
Señor Presidente Andrés Pastrana Arango
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Carrera 8 No.7-26
Santafé de Bogotá
COLOMBIA
Fax: + 57 1 286 7434/287 7939/284 2186/289 3377
Salutation:Dear President Pastrana / Excmo. Sr Presidente
Vice-President of the Republic
Señor Vicepresidente Gustavo Bell Lemus
Alto Consejero Presidencial para asuntos de Derechos Humanos y lucha Contra
la Corrupción
Cra. 8 #7-26,
Palacio de Nariño,
Santafé de Bogotá
Fax: + 57 1 337 1351
Salutation:Dear Vice-President / Excmo. Sr. Vicepresidente
Minister of Interior
Dr. Nestor Humberto Martínez
Ministro del Interior
Ministerio del Interior
Palacio Echeverry
Carrera 8a, No.8-09, piso 2o.
Santafé de Bogotá
COLOMBIA
Fax: + 57 1 286 8025
Salutation:Dear Sir / Sr. Ministro
Governor of the Department of Antioquia
Dr. Alberto Builes Ortega, Gobernador del Departamento de Antioquia
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Gobernación de Antioquia, Calle 42B, # 52-106,Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Telegrams: Gobernador Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia
Fax: + 574 381 1342
Salutation: Sr. Gobernador / Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
Alternative Legal Association
SEMBRAR
AA 34692
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 16 June 2000.

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