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

OIDHACO

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:

Austria
DKA Dreikönigsaktion der Katholischen Jungschar DKA /Acción de los Reyes Magos de Austria, Three-Holy-Kings-Action, Viena
KFB, Catholic Women’s Movement, Viena, Austria; Movimiento de las Mujeres Católicas de Austria

Belgium
Broederlijk Delen, Brussels
Coalition of the Flemisch North-South Movement, 11.11.11
Comité pour le respect des droits humains “Daniel Gillard”
Oxfam-Solidarité, Brussels
ProPaz for Colombia

France
ACAT-Francia, Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture
Catholic Comitee Against hunger and for Development – CCFD
Explorer Humanity
Federation SUD
France Amerique Latine, Paris
Secours Catholique – Caritas France, Paris

Germany
AGEH:Association for Development Cooperation – specialist agency of the German
Catholics for international cooperation, Bonn, Alemania.
Basisinitiative Solidarität (BaSo) (Alemania)
Bread for the World, Stuttgart
Catholic Council of Layman in the Diocese of Aachen
eed: Church Development service – An association of the protestant churches in Germany
Colombia-Berlin Group
Colombia Campaign, Berlin
Ecumenical Network of Christians in Düsseldorf
kolko – human rights for Colombia
Friends of Luz de Luna
German Commission for Justice and Peace
Human Rights Desk of the Social Service Agency of the Protestant Church in Germany
International Fellowship of Reconciliation – German Branch, Minden
MISEREOR – The German Catholic BishopsO Organisation for Development Cooperation
Nicaragua-association, Düsseldorf
Nuremberg Human Rights Centre
Nurtingen Colombia Group
Oficina Internacional de Derechos Humanos
Acción Colombia
Pax Christi Germany – Solidarity Fund, Germany
Peace Award Aachen, Aachen
Society for Threatened Peoples, Goettingen
terre des hommes – Germany, Osnabrueck

Ireland
Trocaire

Italy
Italian network for solidarity “Colombia Vive”
Latinamerican Observatory SELVAS, Milán
Neno Zanchetta Foundation – Lucca

Netherlands
CMC – Mensen met een missie, The Hague
Cordaid, The Hague
Oxfam Novib (Oxfam International), The Hague

Portugal
Institute for Global Peace Work, IGP

Spain
Asamblea internacional de la sociedad civil por la paz, Madrid.
ATELIER – Asociación para la cooperación internacional al desarrollo.
Catalonian Coordination for Peace and Human Rights in Colombia
Colectivo de colombianos refugiados en Asturias, España „Luciano Romero Molina“
Comitee Oscar Romero, Madrid
Debtwatch, Barcelona
Federacion de Comites en Solidaridad con Africa Negra
Intermon Oxfam (member of Oxfam International), Barcelona
Comunidad de Vanguardia Obrera Popular Cristian
PTM-mundubat, Bilbao
Soldepaz.Pachakuti, Astrurias

Sweden
Colombia Network

Switzerland
Assembly International of the Civil Society for Peace in Colombia and the World-Chapitre Switzerland
Bethlehem Mission Immensee
Working Group Switzerland – Colombia
World Organizacion Against Torture (OMCT), Geneva

United Kingdom
Christian Aid, London
Just Solutions Network, Hove
Oxfam UK, Oxford, UK
Oficina Internacional de Derechos Humanos Acción Colombia

International Organizations
Franciscans International
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
International Commission of Jurists – ICJ

Other countries
Canadian Autoworkers Local 199, Canada
INREDH, Regional advisory on Human Rights, Quito, Ecuador
Pro Human Rights Association, Lima, Peru

Colombian Organizations
Colombia – europe – united stated human rigths network, conformed by 187 social and human rights colombian organizations
Colombian Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development conformed by 110 social and human rights colombian organizations
The Alliance of Social and Other like-minded Organizations for International Cooperation for Peace and Democracy in Colombia, conformed by 135 social and human rights colombian organizations
Permanent Assembly of the Civil Society for Peace in Colombia, conformed by 800 social and human rights colombian organizations
Asociación de Mujeres Activas, Barranquilla Colombia
Asociación de Mujeres de Itagüi AMI Itagüi – Colombia
Asociación de Trabajo Interdisciplinario ATI, Bogotá, Colombia
Asociación para la promoción social alternativa “MINGA”, Bogotá, Colombia
Asociación prodesarrollo de Familia APRODEFA – Barranquilla – Colombia
Asociación Prodesarrollo de Familias de Barranquilla (APRODEFA) Barranquilla Colombia
Asociación Santa Rita para la Educación y Promoción FUNSAREP – Cartagena – Colombia
Asociación Tierra de Esperanza – Santa Marta – Cactus – Bogotá – Colombia
Center for Investigation and Popular Education, Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular – CINEP – Bogotá – Colombia
Christians for Justice and Peace Corporation, Medellin
Colectivo Estudiantil de Derechos Humanos „Gonzalo Bravo“, Medellin – Colombia
Colombian mennonite foundation for development – MENCOLDES
Comisión Colombiana de Juristas
Comité de integración del Macizo Colombiana CIMA – Popayán – Colombia
Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos – Bogotá – Colombia
Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca CRIC – Popayán – Colombia
Cooperativa de Trabajo Asociado Profesionales por la Paz PROPAZ – Neiva – Colombia
Corporación Compromiso, Bucaramanga – Colombia
Corporación de Derechos Humanos REINICIAR – Bogotá – Colombia
Corporación de Investigación y Acción Social y Económica CIASE, Bogotá, Colombia
Corporation Jurídica Libertad, Medellin
Corporación Mujeres y Economía REMTE, Colombia
Corporación para la Paz y el Desarrollo Comunitario CORPADEC – Santa Marta – Colombia
Corporación para la Paz y el Desarrollo Social Corpades –Medellín – Colombia
Oficina Internacional de Derechos Humanos Acción Colombia
Corporación para la Salud Popular Grupo Guillermo Ferguson – Bogotá – Cartagena – Colombia
Corporation Pax Christi, Barrancabermeja
Corporación Punto de Vida
Corporación Sisma Mujer, Bogotá, Colombia
Enda Thirld World-Colombia. Enda América Latina-Colombia – Bogotá – Colombia
Equipo de Asesorías a Proyectos de Desarrollo Integral Comunitarios -APRODICCartagena, Colombia.
Escuela Nacional Sindical, Medellín, Colombia
Federación Nacional de organizaciones de vivienda popular FEDEVIVIENDA, Bogotá, Colombia
Foro Nacional por Colombia Capítulo Valle – Cali – Colombia
Fundación Dos Mundos regional Cauca – Popayán – Colombia
Fundación Hogar Juvenil – Cartagena – Colombia
Fundación para la Investigación, Educación y Desarrollo para el Hábitat Popular FIDHAP –
Bogotá – Colombia
Fundación Semilla de Esperanza (FUNSES) Baranoa (Atlantico), Colombia
Foundation for the Popular Communication, Popayán – Colombia
Foundation Happy Childhood – Fundación Infancia Feliz – Barranquilla – Colombia
Guagua Foundation, Cali
Human Rights Collective, Seeds of Freedom, Medellin
Humanidad Vigente – Corporaci¡on Juridica, Bogota, Colombia
Institute for Popular Education – IPC, Medellin
Instituto Latinoamericano de Servicios Legales Alternativos ILSA – Bogotá – Colombia
Intersindical – Itagüi – Colombia
La Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos – Desaparecidos ASFADDES, Bogota- Colombia
Lawyers Corporation José Alvear Restrepo, Bogotá
Lawyers Collective Luís Carlos Pérez, Bucaramanga
Manuel Cepeda Vargas Foundation
Nogueira – Anthropos Editorial, Bogotá
Observatorio Surcolombiano de derechos humanos y violencia OBSURDH – Neiva- Colombia
Peasants Association of the Cimitarra Valley – ACVC, Barrancabermeja
Podion Foundation, Bogotá
Ruta Pacífica de las mujeres