"Disappearances" and political killings: human rights crisis of the 1990s - a manual for action (pre-publication version): Chapter C-3: Colombia: Strategies for evading accountability
This report examines the rise of assassinations and "disappearances" and the proliferation of "death squads" and paramilitary organizations. These groups, initially formed to combat counter-insurgency, acted with impunity against not only guerrillas, but civilians suspected of sympathizing with the opposition, and increasingly members of legal opposition groups, union leaders, teachers and peasant and Indian community leaders. In recent years journalists and others attempting to investigate human rights violations have also been killed, often after a campaign of harassment. "Disappearances" were a means of impunity, the victims mainly farmers and civic leaders or peasants used as guides or porters by the army. Attempts to investigate abuses were blocked, often by intimidation.