07-08-2013: Human Rights violations in Barranquilla, Colombia
?The Ombudsman of Colombia, Ot?lora Jorge Armando G?mez, warned about the serious risk of human rights violations to nearly 5000 residents of Barranquilla and the municipalities of Soledad, Malambo and Puerto Colombia, located in the department of Atlantic.
The most affected are traders, shopkeepers, drivers, women who sell gambling, human rights defenders, social leaders and the victims of forced displacement.
According to the report issued by the Ombudsman?s office, suspected members of illegal armed groups ?Los Rastrojos? and ?Los Urabe?os? threat, charge extortions, perform killings and bomb attacks against houses and shops, among other serious human rights violations. These criminal acts are committed especially by a faction of ?los Rastrojos?, called 'Los Coste?os'.
The report, which was handed over to the Ministry of Interior, recalled that during the first six months of this year, 145 homicides were registered in Barranquilla. However, if we take the entire metropolitan area, the figure rises to 254 homicides for the first seven months of the year.
For Ot?lora, those homicides resulting in dismembered and decapitated bodies are a particular matter of serious concern, for they cause a big social impact among the people.
On the 9th of July, for example, in the neighborhood of San Roque, the head of a man identified as Jose Luis Rodriguez Herrera was found. The victim worked at the marketplace since March 2013, after having been released from jail. Until today, the body of the victim hasn?t been found and the perpetrators are unknown.
July 18th 2013: FARC considers "out of place" intention to close UN office in Colombia
The delegation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), present in Havana, said that it is "out of place" to consider the possibility of closing the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Organization United Nations in Colombia.
"After the events in Catatumbo (northeast), the proposal Santos made to close the UN office is out of place," wrote the delegation in their Twitter account.
Spokesmen of the movement criticized the statements made by President Santos on Tuesday that his country doesn?t need human rights offices of the United Nations anymore.
?Colombia has advanced far enough to say we don?t need human rights offices of the United Nations in our country anymore" said the president.
In response to this approach, members of the FARC referred to peasant protests that began in the Catatumbo region, 37 days ago, and have resulted in clashes between protesters and security forces, with four dead and dozens of injured peasants.
"To ask the UN office to leave, is to ignore the reality of Colombia", added the FARC, as quoted by the news agency EFE.
The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN condemned the police response in Catatumbo and considered that there was excessive use of force, while the government described such statements as "irresponsible and reckless" when the Attorney has not yet clarified how these deaths occurred.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, is visiting Colombia this week and will meet Santos and other officials, so it is expected that there will be more information about the Colombian government's decision on the future of the country?s office.
The rejection of statements by Santos had more reactions from NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and Somos Defensores.
Somos Defensores, comprising 99 platforms on peace and human rights, expressed concern in a statement, noting that "there is no reason to fear the UN presence in Colombia", wishing the mandate of that office to be "renewed fully and for as long as necessary".
For his part, the director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, Jos? Miguel Vivanco, said Santos should take into account the possible consequences of this decision.