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Colombia: death threats / fear for safety: Civic Human Rights Committee of Meta

, N° d'index: AMR 23/011/1995

AI is concerned about a death threat telephoned to the Civic Human Rights Committee of Meta in Villavicencio on 15 March 1995. The caller threatened to kill and bomb them. The Committee works with other local non-governmental organizations to assist families who have been displaced from their homes, due to the armed conflict,and to denounce human rights violations by the security forces and by paramilitaries. There has been an upsurge in military and paramilitary activity in recent months in the Ariari region, south of Villavicencio, where there is a strong guerrilla presence.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/11/95
Distr: UA/SC
UA 68/95 Death Threats / Fear for Safety 16 March 1995
COLOMBIA Civic Human Rights Committee of Meta
On 15 March 1995, a death threat was received by the Civic Human Rights Committee
of Meta (a department of Colombia), Comité Cívico de Derechos Humanos del Meta,
based in the departmental capital, Villavicencio. Harassment and intimidation
of members of the Committee has escalated in recent weeks and there is serious
concern for their safety.
The threat, received on 15 March, was in the form of a message left on the
Committee's answerphone, saying: "You swine: I am going to kill you all. I'm
going to bomb ...(words unintelligible). I am going to destroy you, you dirty
swine." ["Hola perros: les voy a matar todos. Les voy a poner una bomba (...no
entendible). Les voy a quebrar, malditos perros".]
The Committee works with other local non-government organizations to assist
families who have been displaced from their homes and villages as a result
of armed conflict in the region, and to denounce human rights violations
committed by the armed forces and their paramilitary allies.
In recent months, there has been an upsurge in military and paramilitary activity
in the Ariari region, south of Villavicencio, where there is a strong guerrilla
presence. Civilians living in areas where guerrilla forces are active are often
perceived by the armed forces as potential guerrilla collaborators and have,
as a result, been subjected to serious human rights violations, such as
extrajudicial execution and "disappearance", by the security forces and their
paramilitary allies. The paramilitary group known as "Black Snake", ["Serpiente
Negra"] has openly threatened inhabitants of the town of Medellín de Ariari
with annihilation. As a result, there has been an increase in civilians arriving
in Villavicencio from that area. In recent days direct threats and intimidation
of members of the Committee and others working with the displaced families
have increased to such a degree that there is very serious concern for their
safety.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Despite repeated government pledges to protect human rights, members of the
Colombian security forces, together with their paramilitary allies, continue
to commit serious abuses with virtual impunity. Many paramilitary groups have
their origins in the civilian "self-defence" squads which the army created
in the 1980s to act as auxiliaries during counter-insurgency operations. Over
the past five years, several thousand civilians have been killed by paramilitary
groups throughout the country. Although in 1989 the Colombian government
suspended the legal base for the formation of paramilitary organizations and
issued directives to the Colombian armed forces to combat and disband such
groups, paramilitary forces have continued to kill and "disappear" perceived
opponents with impunity. In many areas of the country paramilitary forces
continued to work with the support of the security forces.
President Ernesto Samper Pizano, who assumed office on 7 August 1994, has made
repeated promises, both during his election campaign and since taking office,
2
to improve the human rights situation. His promises include a commitment to
dismantle paramilitary forces.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at intimidation and death threats against the Meta Civic
Human Rights Committee, in particular the death threat received 15 March; urging
that there be an immediate and thorough investigation into this and previous
threats and the results made public;
- urging that, in line with President Samper's declared commitment to protecting
the lives of human rights workers, all possible measures be taken to protect
those working with the Committee;
- urging the government to immediately fulfil its commitment to disband
paramilitary forces presently operating as auxiliaries of, or with the
complicity of, the armed forces;
- calling for members of such forces responsible for human rights violations
to be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
1) President
Señor Presidente Ernesto Samper Pizano
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: President Samper Pizano, Bogotá, Colombia
Telexes: 44281 PALP CO
Faxes: + 57 1 286 7434/287 7939
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente / Dear President
Samper
2) Procurator General
Dr. Orlando Vásquez Velásquez
Procurador General de la Nación
Procuraduría General
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Vasquez, Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes: + 57 1 342 9723/281 7531
Salutation: Sr. Procurador de la Nación/Dear Dr. Vásquez
3) Attorney General
Dr. Alfonso Valdivieso Sarmiento
Fiscal General de la Nación
Fiscalia General de la Nación
Apartado Aéreo 29855
Santafé de Bogotá
Colombia
Telegrams: Fiscal General Valdivieso, Fiscalia General,
Bogotá, Colombia
Faxes: + 57 1 245 5292 or 288 2828
Salutation: Estimado Dr. Valdivieso/Dear Dr. Valdivieso
4) Advocate for the People
Dr. Jaime Córdoba Triviño
3
Defensor del Pueblo
Defensoría del Pueblo
Calle 35 No. 7-25 piso 5
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Defensor del Pueblo Triviño, Defensoria del
Pueblo, Bogota, Colombia
Faxes: + 57 1 346 1225/285 6908
Salutation: Estimado Dr Triviño/Dear Dr. Triviño
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
La Comisión Intercongresional de Justicia y Paz,
AA 31861
Sante Fé 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 27 April 1995.

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