PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 23/026/2002
UA 59/02 Fear for Safety 25 February 2002
COLOMBIAMembers of Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de
Alimentos, (SINALTRAINAL), National Union of Food Industry
Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of members of the
Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos,
(SINALTRAINAL), National Union of Food Industry Workers, after shots were fired
at its headquarters in Cali, Valle del Cauca Department on 14 February.
An unidentified gunman reportedly shot at the third floor of the SINALTRAINAL
headquarters from outside the building. Four SINALTRAINAL members on the third
floor, had to take cover but were not injured as a result of the shooting.
No arrests have been made, despite the fact that the police were reportedly
immediately notified and a patrol car was sent to search for the gunman and
another unidentified man seen with him.
The attempt at the SINALTRAINAL headquarters comes at a time when the trade
union is reportedly preparing a law suit in the United States regarding alleged
human rights violations by paramilitaries against SINALTRAINAL trade unionists
working in bottling plants contracted by the Coca-Cola Company. The attack
also follows threats against and killings of other trade unionists, trade union
activists and their families by army-backed paramilitaries in Cali (see UA
53/02, AMR 23/021/02, 18 February 2002).
The security and armed forces and their paramilitary allies have often accused
trade unionists, human rights workers, members of legal opposition groups and
popular activists of being guerrilla sympathizers or auxiliaries. The people
they have accused have frequently been harassed, tortured and killed, often
by paramilitaries. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
recorded that in 2001 alone, over 160 trade unionists were murdered, and that
harassment and violence is widespread. According to reports from the Colombian
Trade Union Confederation (CUT), so far this year at least 20 trade unionists
have been killed.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of SINALTRAINAL members in Cali, Valle
del Cauca Department;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into the shooting at the union’s
headquarters in Cali, with the results made public and those responsible brought
- asking the authorities what action they will take to guarantee the safety
of those at risk, and calling for the Ministry of Interior’s protection program
for trade unionists to be adequately resourced;
- calling for a full and impartial investigation into links between the security
forces and paramilitary groups operating in Valle del Cauca Department, and
asking that the results of the investigation are made public and those found
responsible for supporting and participating in such groups are brought to
- urging the authorities to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary
groups, in line with stated government commitments and recommendations made
by the UN and other intergovernmental organizations.