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COLOMBIA
UN warns on human rights challenges
3/5/2012
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Recent report applauds some advancements but internal conflict continues to put population at risk.

Colombia’s more than four-decade-old internal armed conflict continues to generate severe human rights violations, such as recruitment of minors, forced displacements and other humanitarian issues, according to a recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, or UNCHR.

The report, released Feb. 27, said that the government took significant steps in 2011 to try to end extrajudicial killings by military and police, known as “false positives.” The UN agency added that the government’s adoption of the “Victims’ and Land Restitution Law” “demonstrated the government’s commitment to upholding the rights of the victims of the internal armed conflict regardless of the identity of the perpetrator.”

While this law, which took effect on Dec. 20, is an important instrument to achieving peace and reconciliation, the UNHCR said it has “some flaws, such as not considering as victims members of illegal armed groups, who may have suffered human rights violations, or recruited children who had not left illegal armed groups before turning 18.”

Amnesty International has criticized the law saying that it is no guarantee of justice and reparations because it lacks security measures for individuals who return to their lands and that it doesn’t take into account that many of them end up forced into working for those who displaced them in the first place, and never regain control of their lands.

UNCHR warned that illegal armed groups, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army or, ELN, as well as state security forces, continue to commit human rights violations against the civilian population, including recruitment of minors, kidnapping — although the FARC said in late February that it would cease that practice — and indiscriminate attacks.

Additionally, the formation of new armed groups, break-offs after the 2005 paramilitary demobilization, along with drug-trafficking rings, poses a major threat. One of the main victim groups are union workers. According to the Central Workers Union, known as CUT, 29 union leaders were killed last year.

The UNHRC also said that indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities are not adequately protected against attacks and are left with “the lack of enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and by continued social marginalization and exclusion.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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