In 2003, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that the human rights situation in Colombia “is characterized by serious, massive, and systematic violations of those rights, many of them constituting crimes against humanity.”1 Five years later, the violations remain serious, massive, and systematic. In many cases they have worsened, and in great part remain unpunished. The responsibility for these violations in the majority of cases is attributed to the Colombian State, as a result of direct perpetration or of tolerance or support of the paramilitary groups. Furthermore, the country is facing a grave rule of law crisis as a consequence of the executive branch’s lack of respect for the separation of powers, which makes the current situation of the country all the more worrying.
As this report will demonstrate, in a context of disregard for human rights, the cases of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, and forced displacement have increased dramatically, and Colombia continues to be the country with the highest number of killings of trade unionists in the world. Additionally, an armed conflict, as defined in Article 1 of Additional Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions on armed conflicts of non-international character, has been raging for the past 40 years. In spite of these facts, the President of the Republic insists on disregarding the existence of the armed conflict, thereby questioning the application of humanitarian law.
Although the Government repeatedly insists on presenting its “democratic security” policy as a human rights policy,4 its implementation has resulted in more violations of citizens’ rights and freedoms, since it is based on the deliberate disregard of the fundamental principles of humanitarian law. Likewise, basic constitutional principles that define this country as a “Social Rule of Law”5 have been ignored and the concept of “security” has been reduced to military and police responses, thereby ignoring the fact that it must be based on respect for human rights.
This Report has been produced by:
ALLIANCE OF SOCIAL AND LIKE-MINDED ORGANIZATIONS
Made up of 140 Colombian social organizations
PERMANENT CIVIL SOCIETY ASSEMBLY FOR PEACE
Made up of 754 social, peace, and human rights organizations
COALITION COLOMBIA-EUROPE-UNITED STATES (CCEEU)
Made up of 199 Colombian social and human rights organizations
COLOMBIAN PLATFORM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, AND DEVELOPMENT
Made up of 110 Colombian social and human rights organizations
In addition to the four above-mentioned coalitions, the following organizations contributed to the drafting of this report:
ROUNDTABLE WOMAN AND ARMED CONFLICT - COALITION AGAINST THE INVOLVEMENT OF BOYS, GIRLS, AND YOUTHS IN THE ARMED CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA (COALICO) - OBSERVATORY
ON RACIAL DISCRIMINATION - CENTER OF COOPERATION FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (CECOIN) - WORLD ORGANIZATION AGAINST TORTURE (OMCT)