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Colombia: fear for safety: Domingo Rafael Tovar Arrieta, Jorge Ortega Garcia

, N° d'index: AMR 23/049/1995

Domingo Rafael Tovar and Jorge Ortega Garcia, members of the National Executive of the United Confederation of Workers (CUT) are reported to have received written and telephoned death threats in the last few days. Jorge Ortega Garcia has also been kept under surveillance at his office and has been followed by members of the security forces. On 12 February 1994 they were detained by members of the army's XIII Brigade, accused of "rebellion". Judicial authorities later ordered their release. There is grave concern for their safety.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 23/49/95
UA 202/95 Fear for Safety 15 August 1995
COLOMBIADomingo Rafael TOVAR ARRIETA, trade unionist
Jorge ORTEGA GARCÍA, trade unionist
Domingo Rafael Tovar Arrieta and Jorge Ortega García, members of the Junta
Nacional de la Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), National Executive of
the United Confederation of Workers, are reported to have received death
threats.
On 8 August 1995, Domingo Rafael Tovar reportedly received a "sufragio", a
written death threat, at the CUT's headquarters in Bogotá, warning him that
he would be killed for his trade union activity. Reports indicate that Domingo
Rafael Tovar moved to Bogotá after an attempt on his life and after intimidation
by the security forces and paramilitary groups in the department of Sucre.
According to information received, Jorge Ortega García has been subjected to
telephoned death threats in recent days, and has been kept under surveillance
at his office and followed by members of the security forces.
On 12 February 1994, members of the army's XIII Brigada, XIII Brigade, reportedly
detained Jorge García and Domingo Rafael, accusing them of "rebellion".
Judicial authorities later ordered their release. There is serious concern
for the two trade unionists given that individuals who are labelled subversives
or accused of being subversives by the security forces are often the target
of human rights violations carried out by the security forces and their
paramilitary allies. Furthermore, in the past, individuals who have faced
death threats and intimidation have often become the target of extrajudicial
execution, "disappearance" and other forms of human rights violation.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In recent years widespread and systematic human rights violations have occurred
in Colombia, including extrajudicial executions, "disappearance", torture and
arbitrary arrest. President Ernesto Samper Pizano has repeatedly pledged his
government's commitment to protect human rights and to tackle impunity. However,
members of the Colombian armed and security forces continue to commit serious
abuses with virtual impunity. Trade unionist, popular leaders, civic activists
and human rights workers are amongst those frequently the target of human rights
violations by the security forces and their paramilitary allies. Only
exceptionally are perpetrators brought to justice; the vast majority of members
of the armed forces responsible for gross human rights violations remain in
active service.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Jorge Ortega García and Domingo Rafael
Tovar Arrieta who have recently received death threats;
- urging that full and impartial investigations are undertaken into the threats,
that the results be made public and those responsible be brought to justice;
- urging that all possible measures, deemed appropriate by Jorge Ortega García
and Domingo Rafael Tovar Arrieta, be undertaken to protect their lives.
APPEALS TO:
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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 1 289 3377 / 286 7434
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 (there may be taped office sounds, then engaged signal,
then fax tone) / 281 7531
Salutation:Sr. Procurador de la Nación/Dear Dr. Vásquez
3)Minister of the Interior
Dr. Horacio Serpa Uribe
Ministro de Gobierno
Ministerio de Gobierno
Carrera 8a, No.8-09, Piso 7
Santafé de Bogotá, COLOMBIA
Telegrams: Ministro de Gobierno Serpa, Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:45406 MINGO CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 286 8025 / 286 0053 / 286 0485
Salutation:Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
4) Minister of Defence
Dr.Juan Carlos Esguerra
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Ministerio de Defensa Nacional
Avenida Eldorado CAN - Carrera 52
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Telegrams:Ministro de Defensa , Bogota, Colombia
Telexes:42411 INPRE CO; 44561 CFAC CO
Faxes:+ 57 1 222 1874
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Lawyers' Association:
Corporación Colectivo de Abogados
AA 44456
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 3 October 1995.
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