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UA 234/93 - Colombia: harassment / fear for safety: Members of Regional Human Rights Committee (CREDHOS) in Barrancabermeja

, N° d'index: AMR 23/042/1993

Members of the Regional Human Rights Committee (CREDHOS), have again been the victims of threats and harassment by officials from the army's Nueva Granada Battalion, based in Barrancabermeja, Santander department. The latest attacks follow the issuing of a press release by CREDHOS on 27 May 1993 denouncing human rights violations committed by members of the Nueva Granada Battalion against the civilian population of Barrancabermeja. CREDHOS has frequently come under attack in recent years. Three members have been killed in circumstances suggesting they were extrajudicially executed, others have been subjected to serious death threats. Although the Colombian government has condemned the attacks, those responsible have not yet been identified and brought to justice.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/42/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 234/93 Harassment/Fear for safety 19 July 1993
COLOMBIA: Members of Regional Human Rights Committee (CREDHOS) in
Barrancabermeja
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of members of the Regional Human
Rights Committee, Comité Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (CREDHOS)
of Barrancabermeja, Santander department. Members of CREDHOS have again reportedly
been the victims of threats and harassment by officials from the army's Nueva Granada
Battalion, Batallón Nueva Granada, whose base is in Barrancabermeja, as a result
of their human rights work.
On 27 May 1993, CREDHOS issued a press release denouncing human rights violations
committed by members of Nueva Granada Battalion against the civilian population of
the north-eastern and south-eastern sectors of Barrancabermeja. Later the same day,
the President of CREDHOS telephoned the Battalion base to ask for information about
some detainees. The Battalion Commander, Luís Fabio García Chávez reportedly responded
in an aggressive and insulting manner and accused the president of CREDHOS of being
" a defender of guerrillas" "defensor de guerrilleros".
On 29 June, CREDHOS requested that the Regional Procurator, Procurador Provincial
and the Municipal Ombudsman, Personero Municipal, visit the Battalion base as they
had received information that three detainees being held at the base were being
tortured. A delegation from the Procurator's office went to the base accompanied
by CREDHOS' legal adviser who when he identified himself was verbally attacked by
an army major, who accused him of working for the guerrillas "trabajar para los
bandoleros, para los voceros de la guerrilla ..."
On 12 July at 2.45 pm the President of CREDHOS telephoned the Battalion base to ask
for information about a reported detainee. On identifying himself, he was verbally
attacked by the same major and accused, amongst other things, of being "political
spokesperson for the guerrillas", vocera política de la guerrilla", "the bandits'
special envoy", mandamás de los bandoleros" and of slandering the military. Similar
accusations in the past have been followed by physical attacks against CREDHOS workers.
CREDHOS has frequently come under attack in recent years. Three members of CREDHOS
have been killed in circumstances suggesting they were extrajudicially executed.
(Please refer to UA 63/92, AMR 23/10/92 and follow-ups AMR 23/33/92 and AMR 23/39/92).
Other members have been subjected to serious death threats and constant harassment,
including being permanently followed by people who, following investigations, were
identified as belonging to state security agents. Several of CREDHOS' staff have
been forced to leave Barrancabermeja due to the serious risks to their lives. Although
the Colombian government has condemned the attacks on CREDHOS and has promised full
investigations, those responsible have not yet been identified and brought to justice.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The work of CREDHOS in defence of human rights in the conflict-torn region of the
Magdalena Medio has achieved international recognition. In 1991 CREDHOS received
the "Lettelier-Moffit" award from the Institute of Political Studies in Washington,
United States. Amongst other activities, CREDHOS regularly denounce human rights
violations committed by the regular armed forces and by paramilitary groups operating
under their command or with their support. CREDHOS have also denounced abuses committed
by guerrilla organizations in the region.
Page 2 of UA 234/93
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters
either in Spanish, English or in your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of all members of CREDHOS, who have reportedly
been the victims of further harassment by army officers from the Nueva Granada
Battalion;
- urging that there be an investigation into this harassment, the results of which
should be made public and those responsible brought to justice;
- urging that all possible measures be taken to protect the lives of CREDHOS members
and all human rights workers so that they can enjoy fundamental human rights and
carry out their lawful activities.
APPEALS TO
1) Commander of the 'Nueva Granada' Battalion:
Teniente Coronel Luís Fabio García Chávez Salutation: Estimado Comandante /
Comandante Batallón Nueva Granada Dear Sir
Calle 12, Pueblo Nuevo
Barrancabermeja
Santander, Colombia
Telegrams: Comandante Batallón Nueva Granada, Barrancabermeja, Santander,
Colombia
2) Minister of Defence:
Dr. Rafael Pardo Rueda Salutation: Sr. Ministro /
Ministro de Defensa Nacional Dear Minister
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado - Carrera 52
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa Pardo Rueda, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes: 42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes: + 57 1 222 1874
3) Procurator General:
Dr. Carlos Gustavo Arrieta Padilla Salutation:Sr. Procurador de
Procurador General de la Nación la Nación /
Procuraduría General Dear Dr. Arrieta
Edificio Banco Ganadero
Carrera 5, No. 15-80
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Procurador General Arrieta, Bogota, Colombia
Faxes: + 57 1 284 0472
4) Attorney General:
Dr. Gustavo de Greiff Salutation: Estimado Dr. de Greiff /
Fiscal General de la Nación Dear Dr. de Greiff
Fiscalia General de la Nación
Apartado Aéreo 29855
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Fiscalia General, Bogota, Colombia
Faxes: + 57 1 287 0939
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
1) President of Colombia:
Señor Presidente César Gaviria Trujillo
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia
2) CREDHOS
AA 505
Barrancabermeja
Santander
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 30 August 1993.

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