Political Murder and Reform in Colombia: The Violence Continues
Killing and murder with a political motivation remain the worst human rights problems faced by Colombia today. An estimated 3,760 Colombians died in 1991 in political violence; this figure includes combat-related deaths, murders of non-combatants by the guerrillas and the army, "social cleansing" killings (whose targets are beggars, prostitutes, drug addicts and the homeless), and massacres and murders of political adversaries committed by paramilitary forces or by the Army or police forces of Colombia. More alarming is that, despite efforts by some government officials and agencies to investigate and prosecute, the perpetrators of these killings enjoy near-total impunity. In 1991, Colombians successfully concluded an experiment in political liberalization. A popularly-elected Constituent Assembly enacted a new Constitution in an attempt to broaden political participation and representation and to guarantee fundamental rights. Significantly, however, the Constituent Assembly failed to curb prerogatives enjoyed by the Armed Forces. In fact, the new Constitution places the armed and security forces even further away from civilian or judicial control. Despite a series of promising political reforms in 1990 and 1991, the government of President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo has been unable to stem the violence that accounts for more political murders in Colombia than any country in the hemisphere, with the possible exception of Peru. In this report, Americas Watch finds that killings and outright murder with a political motivation remain the worst human rights problem faced by Colombia today. "Political Murder and Reform in Colombia" ascribes responsibility for the political vilence to a broad range of actors, including government forces, paramilitary groups, and guerrilla organizations. But there is no question that state agents are directly responsible for many of the murders, or indirectly responsible for providing assistance to the actual killers. The report concludes that government actions to reduce the violence will remain only half-measures until instances of human rights abuse are investigated, and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished, regardless of where inquiries lead. Americas Watch on the Colombian government to give highest priority to the struggle against impunity by allocating the necessary resources to the civilian courts and by providing to lawyers, investigators and magistrates reliable protection from intimidation and corruption.
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ACDEGAM active Americas Watch Antioquia April Arhuaco armed forces arrest attack August Barco Barrancabermeja Battalion Bogota CAJ-SC Cali cartel Carlos Castano Cauca CGSB CINEP civilian Colombian Army Colombian government combat Comision committed Constituent Assembly Constitution CREDHOS crimes Criminal death December Decree Defense Derechos Humanos detention disappearance drug traffickers El Espectador Elite Corps Espectador extradition FARC February February 20 Gomez guerrillas human rights monitors human rights violations Human Rights Watch Ibid impunity International interview January Jorge judicial jurisdiction justice Justicia y Paz kidnapped killed laws of war leaders letter to Americas Magdalena Medio March massacre Medellin cartel Melo military court mobile brigade murder National Police October officers operations organizations Pablo Escobar paramilitary paramilitary groups party peasants political violence Presidential Counsellor prison Procuraduria prosecution Prosecutor protection Public Order Court region reportedly security forces Segovia September serious soldiers targets threats Tiempo torture Uraba victims weapons
Page 103 - ... (Habeas Corpus in Emergency Situations (Arts. 27(2), 25(1) and 7(6) American Convention on Human Rights), Advisory Opinion OC-8/87 of January 30, 1987.
Page 107 - US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1990 (Washington, DC: US GPO, 1991), pp. 1457-1467. 16. For arguments advocating the coincidence of US-Iraqi interests, see Laurie Mylroie, "The Baghdad Alternative,
Page 108 - ... (A) ensuring that torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, incommunicado detention or detention without charges and trial, disappearances, and other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or security of the person, are not practiced; and (B) permitting an unimpeded investigation of alleged violations of internationally recognized human rights...
Page 29 - Most notably, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS...
Page 110 - Committee on Government Operations, "Stopping the Flood of Cocaine with Operation Snowcap: Is It Working?
Page 108 - ... disappearances were down in 1991. In Colombia, our Administration of Justice Program holds out the real possibility of strengthening civilian justice, which, in turn, will mitigate and reduce extrajudicial and political violence. Strong pressure from the Congress on human rights is a useful component in our counternarcotics strategy. But denying aid or imposing conditions impossible to meet, defeats the goal of improving human rights in the end. In the real world, the perfect is the enemy of...
Page 51 - In addition to being the oldest groups, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC...
Page 1 - One of the most important was the election of a National Constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution to replace the one that had been in effect, with some amendments, since 1886.