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UA 423/94 - Colombia: fear for safety / possible extrajudicial executions: Rodrigo Montes Romero, Fernando Gomez Barrios

, N° d'index: AMR 23/090/1994

Fears for the safety of opposition activists in Ovejas region have increased following the killing of municipal councillor-elect Rodrigo Montes Romero and Fernandos Gomez Barrios on 21 November 1994. One of the gunmen involved in their killing was himself killed by witnesses who allgedly found on him documents suggesting close links with the security forces. The three dead men were buried on 22 November but during the burial the body of the dead gunman was reportedly disinterred by people apparently from the state security, DAS, who took the body away.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 23/90/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 423/94 Fear for Safety/Possible Extrajudicial Execution 1 December 1994
COLOMBIA Rodrigo MONTES ROMERO, municipal councillor-elect
Fernando GOMEZ BARRIOS, aged 30
Further evidence has emerged from Ovejas region that members of the armed forces
are working in cooperation with paramilitary forces to kill civilians, and
has increased fears for the safety of opposition activists in the area. On
21 November 1994 municipal councillor-elect Rodrigo Montes Romero and Fernando
Gómez Barrios were shot dead in Ovejas by armed men, one of whom was reportedly
carrying documents suggesting close links with the security forces.
At 8.10pm on 21 November, seven armed men arrived on foot in the community
of La Peña, Ovejas, Sucre department, and went into a billiards hall opposite
the house of Rodrigo Montes Romero, member of the opposition party Corriente
de Renovación Socialista (CRS), Movement for Socialist Renewal. The armed
men lined up all those in the hall against a wall. They then separated Rodrigo
Montes and Fernando Gómez Barrios from the others and shot them dead.
As the gunmen left, one of them was shot by witnesses and later died of his
injuries. On his body were found various documents, including names and
addresses of members of paramilitary groups based in the nearby town of San
Pedro, names of "state agents", "agentes", and the name and telephone number
of an army major from the Batallón de Infantería de Marina No 5, Marina Infantry
Battalion No 5, based in Corozal, about 30 km from Ovejas.
On 22 November, during the burial of the three dead men, two trucks, reportedly
owned by the state security service DAS, Departamento Administrativo de
Seguridad, arrived. The occupants disinterred the body of the dead gunman
and took it with them, apparently with the cooperation of the Ovejas police.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Formerly an armed opposition group, the CRS signed a peace agreement with the
Colombian government in May 1994 and returned to civilian life. Since then,
a number of CRS members have been killed.
Despite repeated government pledges to protect human rights, members of the
Colombian and 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 and continue 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, 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
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letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the killing of Rodrigo Montes Romero and Fernando Gómez
Barrios on 21 November 1994 in Ovejas, Sucre, by armed gunmen who appear to
have been working in cooperation with the Colombian security forces;
- urging that there be an immediate, thorough and independent investigation
into their deaths, the results made public, and that those found responsible
be brought to justice;
- urging that the evidence of close links with the security forces found on
the body of the dead gunman be thoroughly investigated, and the results of
this investigation also be made public;
- urging that the government immediately fulfil its commitment to disband
paramilitary forces presently operating as auxiliaries, or with the complicity,
of the armed forces, and that members of such forces responsible for human
rights violations be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO
1) President of Colombia:
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 1 287 0939 or 288 2828
Salutation: Estimado Valdivieso/Dear Dr. Valdivieso
4) Minister of Defence
Dr. Fernando Botero Zea
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa Botero, Bogota, Colombia
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Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 222 1874/288 4906/228 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Intercongregational Commission for Justice and Peace
Comisión Intercongregacional de Justicia y Paz
AA 31861
Santafé 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 8 January 1995.

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