EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/42/93
UA 234/93 Harassment/Fear for safety 19 July 1993
COLOMBIA: Members of Regional Human Rights Committee (CREDHOS) in
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.