PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/062/2001
UA 147/01 Fear for Safety 13 June 2001
COLOMBIAIndigenous communities of Pueblo Viejo, La Robada, Tres Cruces, Cambia
and Los Chancos y El Salado in the Nuestra Señora Candelaria
de la Montaña reservation, Caldas department
Paramilitaries have threatened indigenous families living in a reservation
(resguardo) in the central Department of Caldas, forcing them to flee their
homes. Amnesty International is concerned for their safety and for that of
other indigenous communities in the area.
On 7 June, a group of paramilitaries belonging to the Autodefensas Unidas de
Colombia (AUC), Self-Defence Groups of Colombia, reportedly ordered 13 families
living in the community of El Salado in the Nuestra Señora Candelaria de la
Montaña reservation to leave their homes by the next day. The families fled
to the municipal capital of Riosucio.
Paramilitary gunmen have also ordered other indigenous communities in the area,
including Pueblo Viejo, La Robada, Tres Cruces, Cambia and Los Chancos y El
Salado, to leave. Since 5 June, they have set up illegal checkpoints and have
controlled the movement of the civilian population. They have threatened to
kill those who do not show their identity documents.
Indigenous communities have informed the Colombian authorities of the
paramilitary presence. However, although troops with the Ayacucho and Quimbaya
batallions of the VIII Brigade of the Colombian Army have reportedly been
stationed in the municipalities of Riosucio and Supía for the last month, the
authorities have reportedly failed to take effective action to protect the
indigenous population, and paramilitary forces have apparently been able to
operate unhindered in the area.
The security forces and their paramilitary allies have frequently committed
serious human rights violations against peasant, black and indigenous
communities living in conflict areas. Such violations are committed with virtual
impunity. In the last five years several thousand civilians have been killed
by paramilitary groups. Guerrilla forces have also carried out numerous killings
and other violations of international humanitarian law against peasant, black
and indigenous communities.
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 - by action or omission - in many areas
of the country.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Sapanish or your own language:
- expressing serious concern for the safety of the indigenous communities named
above, whom paramilitaries have ordered to leave;
- urging the authorities to take immediate and effective measures to guarantee
- expressing concern that the government and security forces have taken no
effective action against paramilitary groups in the Department of Caldas,