International affairs, peace
and human security
HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM:
Joint oral intervention by Franciscans International, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches
A global peace strategy for overcoming the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Colombia
I speak on behalf of Franciscans International, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and theWorld Council of Churches. And as a member of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartadó, I am also here today to represent the Ecumenical Coalition of Colombia, as well as the people of Colombia. We declare our profound indignation concerning the systematic persecution of communities that cry out for neutrality from the armed groups, especially the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó where, on February 21, 2005, 8 people were assassinated, including four children and one of our principle leaders. The evidence suggests the responsibility of the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army.
The ongoing conflict in Colombia has produced one of the world’s worst internal displacement crises, with over three million people internally displaced, and with Afro-Colombians and indigenous people disproportionately affected.
For the construction of a Global Peace Strategy in Colombia there needs to be an effective dismantling of paramilitary structures. In Colombia an “expansion and consolidation… including social and institutional insertion” of paramilitarism is taking place.1 This reflects a dismantling of the rule of law in Colombia and the introduction of a social and political model established on fear. The security policy of the Colombian Government indicates “uncertainty in the fight against paramilitary groups and, in particular, against its structures, including the connections between members of the public forces and other public servants and these groups.”2 Together with the type of negotiations taking place3 which seem likely to perpetuate impunity for thousands of crimes committed over decades, this could open a new period of conflict in Colombia.
The role of the international community must not be such as to exacerbate the conflict or to promote a militaristic solution. In that regard, we are worried by the growing US participation in the armed conflict, reflected in the presence of soldiers and private military contractors. Currently, Colombia is the second largest recipient of military support from the United States.4
In the social and economic field, there has been no decrease in the gap between rich and poor, no progress in overcoming extreme poverty, and no advance in the promotion of literacy and employment and increasing access to health and housing.5 On the contrary, during this Government’s term, there has been an acceleration of the privatization of basic public services, the closure of many domestic businesses, and the entry into Colombia, with almost no conditions, of large multinational companies. One percent of the population possesses 55% of the cultivatable land. This concentration of land in the hands of a few has been furthered through military strategies for the imposition of political loyalty by force. Political and economic interests therefore continue to be a chief cause of the forced displacement taking place in the country.6
We ask the Commission on Human Rights to:
1. Declare its concern about the massacre which occurred in San José de Apartadó and ask that the Colombian Government offers an explanation and justice for the crime as well as reparation for the community.
Thank you Mr Chairman.