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10-08-07 19:06
Open letter to the European Union

By KOLKO-HUMAN RIGHTS FOR COLOMBIA





Open letter

The European Union must take a firm stand in defence of truth and justice in Colombia

We urge the EU and its Member States not to help legitimise a ?demobilisation? process which does not respect the rights of the victims.


*
On 3 October 2005, the Council of the European Union defined its position on the so-called process of demobilisation of Colombia?s paramilitary groups. Two years on, the initial concerns that this process would not guarantee true dismantling of the paramilitary groups nor the rights of the victims to truth, justice and reparation have been confirmed. The EU is currently preparing an up-date of its position on the demobilisation process and, in the light of this, we would like to state the following:

*There must be guarantees for non-repetition of crimes:* The paramilitary structures have not been dismantled, as proved by the criminal acts of numerous groups, some claiming to be ?new groups?, in many regions of the country. This situation has been corroborated, among others, by MAPP-OEA (Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia Organisation of American States) in its latest report. Since December 2002, over 3,000 people have been the victims of crimes in violation of the unilateral truce declared by the AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia), crimes committed with impunity. The threats and actions against human rights defenders continue, as does the social control of victimised communities. The paramilitaries retain their wealth and sources of funding and there is evidence that they continue to run the drugs trade.

*The true scale of paramilitarism must be established: *34 members and ex-members of the Colombian Congress close to the government are under criminal investigation in the scandal known as ?parapolitics?. 20 of them have been arrested. Former high-ranking national and regional government officials have also been arrested or are fugitives from justice, among them the former director of Colombia?s government department on security (DAS). The InterAmerican Court of Human Rights, ruling on cases of massacres, has found the Colombian State guilty of structural and historical links between its armed forces and paramilitary groups. Neither these links nor the State?s role in the expansion of paramilitarism are being investigated as part of the demobilisation process. Outside the country, several multinationals are under investigation for financing paramilitarism.

*The right to truth must be guaranteed: *There are no guarantees that the truth will be preserved or made known to Colombian society and there is a risk that truth is ending up simply as an abstract part of some report. Communities and victims are encouraged to become reconciled with demobilised paramilitaries and to work together with them, without the truth ever having been established nor any apologies made for crimes committed. The paramilitary leaders justify their crimes, they do not give any guarantees that they will not be repeated and they have shown no remorse for them.

*The right to justice must be guaranteed: *According to official figures, the so-called Justice and Peace Law (LJyP) would only apply to 2,695 paramilitaries out of over 31,671 demobilised. The remaining 28,976 will have benefited from /de facto/ amnesties provided for outwith the Justice and Peace Law. The Constitutional Court revised the Law for it to conform with the Constitution and international treaties but the government reversed part of this ruling through a later decree. The Colombian legal system has not been given enough resources for the sheer magnitude of the crimes that it must investigate and punish. The victims, their relatives and their lawyers are subjected to constant threats and several have been murdered.

*The right to reparation must be guaranteed* including the return of between 2.6 and 6.8 million hectares of land from which over three million people have been displaced. Most of these people were displaced as part of the paramilitary strategy. Two draft laws are currently going through Congress (law on land and law for the formalisation of land ownership) which would make it easier for the perpetrators to have the theft of these lands legalised, only a few thousand hectares of which have been returned. Through the use of terror, the paramilitary strategy has allowed fortunes to be amassed, by controlling economies both legal and illegal which continue under paramilitary control as true spoils of war. The government has taken no concrete and effective action to ensure that the paramilitaries hand over these resources in reparation to the victims through the mechanisms envisaged.

*We therefore believe that current process disregards the concept of justice and is not aimed at restoring the rule of law legally, politically or even symbolically.

In order for the paramilitary demobilisation process to contribute towards peace we, the undersigned organisations, strongly urge the EU and its Member States:*

· not to support the process of demobilisation of the paramilitary groups, neither politically nor economically, under the conditions seen over the last two years and not to contribute to administrative reparation of the victims which allows the paramilitaries and State to evade their obligations;

· to ensure that the EU?s aid takes side for the victims, contributing to guaranteeing their protection and dignity, and opposing forced reconciliation which consolidates the power of the perpetrators and denies the victims their rights;

· to support the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court so that their independence is guaranteed;

· to demand that the Colombian government guarantees the rights of the victims to truth, justice and reparation as well as the effective dismantling of paramilitary structures. An effective and independent mechanism is required to establish the truth;

· to urge the Colombian State to establish the whole truth about the responsibility of the State?s agents and institutions for crimes and to rid all its institutions of any possible links with paramilitaries.


Brussels, 2 August 2007
_Signed:


Please sign before august 26 th and send it back to:

The open letter can only be signed by organisations (not by persons).
Pleas add the name of your organisation in spanish, english and german (if possible)
Thank you very much.

kolko e.V. - Menschenrechte für Kolumbien
kolko e.V. - derechos humanos por Colombia

Greifswalderstr. 4
D- 10405 Berlin
Alemania

fon: ++ 49 - 30 -
fax: ++ 49 - 30 -
www.kolko.de





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