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Colombia

    May 27, 2016

    The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group must immediately and unconditionally release two journalists and a cameraman that are believed to be hostages and must ensure that the three are treated humanely at all times, Amnesty International said today.

    Colombian-Spanish journalist Salud Hernández-Mora was last seen in the northern region of Catatumbo on 21 May, while Colombian journalist Diego D'Pablos and cameraman Carlos Melo disappeared two days later in the same region.

    This is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and risks undermining recent efforts to start peace talks with the ELN, the country’s second largest guerrilla group.

    The Colombian authorities must take all necessary measures to locate their whereabouts and to secure their release without jeopardizing their safety

    April 11, 2016

     

    The numbers are staggering. Some six million people have been forced to flee their homes in Colombia during decades of armed conflict characterized by horrendous human rights violations against civilians.

    In the process, at least 8 million hectares of land have been abandoned or misappropriated.

    At the same time, Colombian authorities have granted licences to mining and other companies looking to exploit these lands and their natural resources, failing to guarantee the internationally-recognized right of Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples to decision-making about their territory without fear of harm.

    March 30, 2016

    Justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and violations amid Colombia’s five-decade armed conflict must lie at the heart of peace talks announced today between the government and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN), Amnesty International said.

    The government and the ELN, the country’s second largest guerrilla group, said that official peace negotiations between the two sides are soon to begin in Ecuador.

    The country’s largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) are expected to sign a peace agreement with the government in the coming weeks or months after more than three years of talks.

    “The talks between the ELN and the government, coupled with an imminent peace deal with the FARC, bring hope that more than half a century of conflict in Colombia might soon be over,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2015

    Colombia’s Supreme Court of Justice yesterday overturned the conviction of retired colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega for his role in crimes under international law. In 2010, Plazas Vega had been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the crime of enforced disappearance.

    Twelve people were forcibly disappeared following an assault by the security forces on the Palace of Justice in Bogotá in November 1985 after the M-19 guerrilla group had taken hostage those inside. Some 100 people died in the assault, including 11 Supreme Court judges.

    The Colombian authorities must now redouble efforts to ensure that the whole truth about what happened during the assault on the Palace of Justice comes out and that all those responsible are identified and brought to justice before the ordinary civilian courts.

    November 04, 2015

    Released Wednesday 4 November 2015, 00:01 Mexico (05:01 GMT)

    The Colombian government must prioritize the right of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to decide how their land is developed above companies’ desire to exploit those territories for profit, said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    Access to and use of Colombia’s resource-rich land is one of the most critical issues in the peace negotiations between the government and the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), currently taking place in Havana, Cuba. Many of those who have been forced off their homes due to the armed conflict are looking for ways to return to and reclaim their lands.

    September 29, 2015

    By Kathy Price,  Colombia campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    It was great news, the kind of news that underscores how incredibly important our activism is.

    September 24, 2015

    The agreement on transitional justice signed yesterday by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) brings a ray of hope to the millions of victims of human rights violations and abuses committed during Colombia’s 50-year-long long armed conflict, said Amnesty International.

    However, vague definitions and potential amnesties raise fears that not all human rights abusers will face justice. The only way for Colombia to move forward from its troubled history is to ensure all those who were responsible for the torture, killings, enforced disappearances, crimes of sexual violence or forced displacement of millions of people across the country are finally held to account for their crimes.

    “This agreement is a very significant development and a clear sign that, finally, an end to hostilities is tantalizingly close. However, it still leaves many issues unresolved when it comes to ensuring that the many victims will receive truth, justice and reparation in accordance with international law,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    July 17, 2015

    Several key provisions of Law 1753, which was approved by Congress on 9 June, and through which the government has implemented the 2014-18 National Development Plan (NDP), must be repealed since they threaten to legitimize the mass land grabs that have marked Colombia’s armed conflict, Amnesty International said today.

    Peasant farmer, Indigenous and Afro-descendant organizations, and several congresspeople, have challenged the legality of several articles in the legislation and last month presented a claim before the Constitutional Court to rule on their constitutionality.

    Law 1753 contains several provisions that might enable mining and other economic interests to gain legal ownership over lands that could have been misappropriated through crimes under international law and human rights violations during the course of the country’s long-running internal armed conflict. This could undermine the right of many of these lands’ legitimate occupants to claim ownership over them.

    July 09, 2015

    The authorities must respect due process and ensure an impartial investigation in the case of 15 people, most of them human rights defenders and student activists, arrested yesterday in the capital Bogotá in connection with last week’s explosions in the city, Amnesty International said today.

    On 2 July, two small explosive devices were detonated in Bogotá leaving several people injured but no fatalities. The authorities attributed the attack to the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN).

    In setting off these explosives in the city, with the high risk to civilian life that this entailed, those responsible clearly showed a complete disregard for human life.
    The authorities have a duty to investigate any criminal activity and bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility through an independent and impartial process which conforms to international law and standards.

    March 31, 2015
    By Rosemary Ganley, Group 46

    Three lively community groups came together in Peterborough on March 22 to meet Father Alberto Franco, a Redemptorist priest and dedicated human rights defender from Bogota, Colombia.

    Father Franco leads the Colombian Justice and Peace Commission in a dangerous and unstable atmosphere. He is known to Amnesty International as the subject of an Urgent Action appeal two years ago. He was threatened many time and shot at once. He smiles as he admits that, at the behest of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, he now travels with guards.

    Father Franco’s work involves accompanying peasants and indigenous people in the region of Choco in northern Colombia as they strive, first to survive in a warring area, and then to return home and re-establish communities of peace. His office provides legal and social-psychological support, education and communication for exploited groups as they assert their rights to livelihood and stability.

    March 25, 2015

    The long term viability of any peace agreement risks being seriously undermined if those responsible for human rights abuses, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, are not brought to justice, Amnesty International will tell the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) today.

    Despite the two year-long peace process, involving the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), civilians continue to bear the brunt of the harmful consequences of hostilities. Indigenous People, Afro-descendant and peasant farmer communities are particularly badly affected.

    “While the UN Human Rights Council meets in Geneva today, across Colombia civilians are still being threatened and killed. Thousands continue to be forced from their homes and lands because of the armed conflict. Very few of those suspected of criminal responsibility have ever been brought to justice. This cannot go on,” said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s Colombia Researcher.

    January 21, 2015

    Thousands of people have been forcibly evicted from on and around Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh since 2007, when the government leased their land to a company for development. © REUTERS/Samrang Pring

    Ten women housing rights defenders and a Buddhist monk, all jailed after short summary trials and some suffering from serious health issues, must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty international said ahead of their appeal hearing tomorrow, 22 January.

    The 11 were arrested after two related peaceful protests in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh in November last year.

    “These activists are victims of the Cambodian authorities’ relentless crackdown on peaceful protests – they should never have been prosecuted in the first place, let alone jailed,” said Janice Beanland, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Cambodia.

    November 27, 2014

    Released 27 November 2014 05:01 GMT

    Threats and killings coupled with the weak implementation of flawed legislation are scuppering the Colombian government’s promise to return millions of hectares of land illegally snatched from peasant farmers, Indigenous People and Afro-descendant communities, said Amnesty International today.

    In a new report A land title is not enough: Ensuring sustainable land restitution in Colombia, Amnesty International explores how the Victims and Land Restitution Law (Law 1448), implemented in 2012, is failing the vast majority of people whose lands were stolen. Many have been unable to return home due to ongoing threats of violence and the slowness of the restitution process. 

    “Colombia has one of the highest levels of forced displacement in the world and it is patently clear that the authorities are not doing enough to ensure that stolen lands are effectively returned to their rightful occupants,” said Marcelo Pollack, Colombia Researcher, Amnesty International.

    August 21, 2014

     

    A trusted partner of Amnesty Canada urgently needs our support

    By Kathy Price
    Colombia Campaigner, Amnesty International

    The terrible news came via a skype call from Colombia. Juan Pablo Gutiérrez, the big-hearted, creative, hard-working advocate for the rights of threatened Indigenous peoples and collaborator with Amnesty Canada, told me about receiving an envelope containing a death threat from the notorious Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles), a feared paramilitary group.

    The message warned that Juan Pablo was now a paramilitary target and would be killed for his work with the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), a coalition with whom Amnesty International Canada has worked closely in recent years.

    The death threat had been delivered to Juan Pablo as he waited for public transit near his home, en route to work, making clear that the paramilitaries had been monitoring his movements and knew where to find him.

    June 19, 2014
    Street protest for the survival of Indigenous peoples in Colombia

    By Kathy Price, Colombia Campaigner

    It was two years ago that courageous Indigenous women and men in Colombia sent photo messages to Canada to tell us about deadly assaults on their lives and lands.

    Photo messages like the one from this Kankuamo woman - who writes "We want to live in peace on our lands" - put faces on an acute yet hidden human rights emergency. The very survival of more than a third of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, including the Kankuamo, is in jeopardy amidst attacks, forced displacement and the imposition of resource extraction projects that are increasing with promotion by Canada’s free trade agreement with Colombia.

    Indigenous rights defenders in Colombia, many of them threatened with death for their vital work, urged us to speak out with them. In attention-grabbing numbers, you have done just that!

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