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UA 383/93 - Colombia: fear for safety: The young people of Villatina, neighbourhood of Medellin Department of Antioquia

, Index number: AMR 23/067/1993

On 25 September 1993 a taxi carrying several armed men reportedly drove around the streets of the neighbourhood of Villatina. On 29 September armed men in a jeep shot at a group of youths who were talking in the street. No- one was injured. It is believed that these incidents form part of a continuing campaign of victimization of the young people of Villatina. Community leaders, students and unemployed youths in shanty towns surrounding the major cities have increasingly been targeted by "death squads". These attacks increased dramatically after Pablo Escobar and several other leading drug-traffickers escaped from prison in July 1992. There has been no attempt by the authorities to put a halt to these attacks, nor to bring those responsible to justice.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/67/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 383/93 Fear for Safety 29 October 1993
COLOMBIA The young people of Villatina, neighbourhood of Medellín
Department of Antioquia.
Amnesty International is concerned by recent acts of intimidation and shootings
which point to a continuing campaign of violence against young people on the
streets of Villatina, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Medellín,
Antioquia department.
On 25 September 1993 a taxi carrying several men dressed in civilian clothing
and armed with long-range weapons, reportedly drove around the streets of the
neighbourhood of Villatina. On 29 September armed men dressed in civilian
clothing in a jeep shot at a group of youths who were talking in the street.
No-one was injured.
Amnesty International believes that these incidents form part of a continuing
campaign of victimization of the young people of Villatina. Community leaders,
students and unemployed youths in shanty towns surrounding the major cities
have increasingly been targeted by "death squads". Reports of "death squad"
style attacks on young people in shanty towns surrounding Medellín increased
dramatically after Pablo Escobar and several other leading drug-traffickers
escaped from prison in July 1992. After the escapes, attacks on police agents
in Medellín escalated. In a three-month period over 60 police officers were
killed in Medellín by gunmen reportedly employed by Pablo Escobar. The police
took their revenge indiscriminately killing youths in the shanty towns from
where they apparently suspect the drug-traffickers recruit their gunmen. Only
hours after two police agents were shot dead in the centre of Medellín in November
1992, 12 masked men armed with automatic rifles raided Villatina and killed
9 children, aged 17 and under. The youngest victims were a boy and a girl,
both aged eight. Seven of the children were members of a religious youth
organization, "Builders of the Future". The press reported the massacre and
quoted a member of the local administration as saying that the victims "were
innocent, only students, and young people who had nothing to do with the war
the government has declared on the outlaws". Following this on 31 December
1992, a similar act of intimidation as those that have occurred recently, took
place. There has been no attempt by the authorities to put a halt to these
events nor to bring those responsible to justice, and the population of Villatina
is fearful for its children.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In recent years widespread and systematic human rights violations have occurred
in Colombia, including torture, arbitrary arrest, "disappearance" and
extrajudicial execution. President César Gaviria Trujillo has repeatedly
pledged his government's commitment to protect human rights. However, members
of the Colombian armed and security forces continue to commit serious abuses
with virtual impunity. Civic leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists
and those considered "social undesirables" are amongst the groups frequently
targeted by the security forces, including the National Police, for arbitrary
arrest and other forms of human rights abuse.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish, English or in your own language:
2
- urging the authorities to investigate the attempted shooting of various youths
on the street in Villatina, neighbourhood of Medellín, Antioquia department;
- urging that there be full and impartial investigations into past massacres
and acts of intimidation and that those responsible be brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to take all possible measures to protect the lives
of the population, and more specifically of the young people, of Villatina.
APPEALS TO
1) President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Gaviria, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7324/7434, 287 7937
Salutation:Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente/Dear President Gaviria
2) Attorney General
Dr. Gustavo de Greiff
Fiscal General de la Nación
Fiscalia General de la Nación
Apartado Aéreo 29855
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Fiscal General, Fiscalia General, Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 287 0939
Salutation: Estimado Dr. de Greiff/Dear Dr. de Greiff
3) Police chief of Medellín
Señor Comandante Policia Metropolitana
Brigadier General J.Antonio Rodriguez Q.
Calle 48, No. 45-58
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Telegrams: Señor Comandante Policia Metropolitana, Medellin, Colombia
Faxes: +57 4 251 8959
Salutation: Estimado Brigadier General / Dear Brigadier General
4) Commander of the 4th Brigade, Colombian army
Señor Comandante de la IV Brigada
Cuarta Brigada de Institutos Militares
Calle 50, No. 76-126
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
Telegrams: Señor Comandante de la IV Brigada, Medellin, Colombia
Salutation: Estimado Sr. Comandante/Dear Commander
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
1) Local Human Rights and Educational Organization:
Comite Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos
"Hector Abad Gomez" - Seccional Antioquia
Apartado Aéreo 50645
Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
2) Advocate for the People:
Dr. Jaime Córdoba Triviño
Defensor del Pueblo
Defensoría del Pueblo
3
Avenida 39, No. 16-42
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes:+ 57 1 232 4640
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 10 December 1993.

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