Colombia: 471 Persons Disappeared During the Mobilizations that Began April 28th

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The Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in Colombia warned that 471 people disappeared in Colombia between April 28 and May 5, in the framework of the #ParoNacional. 379 of them are still missing.

The Working Group on Enforced Disappearances in Colombia – MDTDF, warned about the human rights crisis experienced in the country as a result of attacks by the security forces on citizens who have been mobilizing since April 28 to date, within the framework of the National Strike. In particular, it is concerned about the reports of forced disappearances that now total 471 people throughout the country according to the cases documented by organizations that are involved in this work.

Of this total consolidated up to May 5, 2021, it has been known that 92 people have reappeared, some of them after having been arbitrarily deprived of their freedom and taken to Protection Transfer Centers (CTP), Immediate Attention Commandos (CAI) and other places not authorized by law and without the presence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The victims also reported that they were beaten, subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as sexual and gender-based violence in the case of women and members of the LGBTI population.

According to the information collected, two people reported missing were found dead in the Cauca River. They are Brahian Gabriel Rojas López and an unidentified person disappeared in the mobilization in La Arena de La Virginia (Risaralda) on April 28, 2021.

All the cases documented by the MDTDF implicate the National Police and the Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron -ESMAD- who continue to act with total impunity due to the lack of investigation and control by the Attorney General’s Office and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. In this sense, we demand that the National Government give the order to stop the repression against the demonstrators and guarantee not only the right to protest, but also the right to life, liberty and personal integrity. It is also urgent that the Attorney General’s Office investigate all the complaints filed and that the Attorney General’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office fulfill their constitutional obligation to ensure the rights and guarantees of the entire population.

On May 6, 2021, the MDTDF presented a request to the FGN for the immediate activation of the Urgent Search Mechanism to locate the whereabouts of the 471 people reported as forcibly disappeared and to clarify the facts. In addition, a report of persons captured in the context of social protest, persons deprived of liberty under the figure of transfers for protection and persons prosecuted must also be submitted.

It is urgent that the FGN provide information on the Search Mechanisms that have been activated, the number and identity of the people found alive and the investigations that have been opened for the attacks suffered by these people. We demand information on the people reported killed in the context of social protest.

The FGN must appoint in all the municipalities that report forced disappearances an official at the management level of the Sectional Prosecutor’s Office to ensure attention and accountability to the families of each of the persons reported as disappeared. This person must remain active until each person’s whereabouts are found.

As a result of this situation, it is necessary to initiate criminal investigations for the crime of forced disappearance for each group of incidents by place and time, to determine the facts, the criminal conduct, the identification of those responsible, and to carry out the evidentiary work that will allow accusations to be filed against them.

It is necessary that sufficient actions are taken so that the units and prosecutors who deal with cases of detentions in contexts of social protest carry out personal verification, monitoring and interviews with the detainees, in order to prevent the commission of forced disappearances in this type of situation.

It is expected that from the “Information Roundtable on Forced Disappearance and Homicides” constituted by the Ombudsman’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office, all efforts are made to prevent new acts of forced disappearance and all necessary actions are implemented to find the persons reported as missing alive and to initiate investigations to punish those responsible for this serious violation of human rights.