Political Murder and Reform in Colombia: The Violence Continues

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Human Rights Watch, 1992 - Political Science - 118 pages
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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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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.
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