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Colombia: Human rights situation of girls and boys in the context of the internal armed conflict


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Colombia: Human rights situation of girls and boys in the context of the internal armed conflict

  1. 1. COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DE JURISTAS 1 Organización no gubernamental con status consultivo ante la ONU Filial de la Comisión Internacional de Juristas (Ginebra) y de la Comisión Andina de Juristas (Lima) PERSONERÍA JURÍDICA : RESOLUCIÓN 1060, AGOSTO DE 1988 DE LA ALCALDÍA MAYOR DE BOGOTÁ Colombia: Human rights situation of girls and boys in the context of the internal armed conflict1The situation of human rights and humanitarian law remains very worrisome.2 In theyears 2007 and 2008, serious human rights violations and breaches of humanitarianlaw have persisted and are being committed by all the groups participating in thehostilities: guerrilla and paramilitary groups, as well as the state security forces. 3Boys’ and girls’ rights to life and personal integrity, to personal and sexual freedom,and to not be linked to armed groups that take part in the hostilities have beenaffected. Their situation of defenselessness continues to worsen.In the past three years, an increase in extrajudicial executions of girls and boys hasbeen registered, perpetrated directly by members of the state security forces which, onoccasion, have presented the bodies of their victims to the judicial authorities and themedia as those of “insurgents dead in combat.” On January 6, 2008, in the town ofColombia (Huila), 16 year-old Óscar Javier Ortiz Lozano and three other personswere assassinated by alleged members of the state security forces. The act wascarried out when members of the Police and the Armed Forces arrived at thecorregimiento of San Marcos and opened fire in a community public venue. The boywas the target of five shots in the back when he tried to escape the attack. Threecivilians were injured in the same event.4Other extrajudicial executions of children were registered in the departments ofCaquetá and Tolima.In spite of the fact that, in the framework of negotiations with the government, theparamilitary groups committed themselves to stopping their attacks against thecivilian population, it is evident that they did not keep their word and continue toviolate the right to life of girls and boys. For example, on March 26, 2007, in Bello(Antioquia), a 14 year-old girl was the victim of homicide and sexual violence, andanother girl, ten years old, was injured by presumed paramilitaries, two of whom were15 year-old boys, themselves victims of recruitment. 5 It is worthy of note that theCacique Nutibara Block of the paramilitary AUC group was the first to participate ina demobilization ceremony, on November 25, 2003, in Medellín (Antioquia).Homicides were also reported, committed by the guerrilla group FARC-EP, in thedepartments of Putumayo, Nariño, Valle and Huila, among others. On January 20,2008, in the city of Palmira (Valle), Martha Liliana Machín Rodríguez, a woman whowas three months pregnant, and her daughter Luisa, a nine month-old baby, werevictims of a landmine presumably planted by the FARC guerrilla. The baby and hermother died as a consequence of the explosion. Martha suffered the amputation of one1 This presentation was prepared with the collaboration of the Coalition against the recruitment of boys, girls, and young peopleinto the armed conflict in Colombia, Coalico.2 Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Colombia, February 28,2008, A/HRC/7/39.3 Report of the United Nations Secretary General to the Security Council on children and armed conflicts, December 21, 2007,,A/62/609–S/2007/757, paragraph. 118.4 “A mi sobrino lo mataron” [My nephew was assassinated], Diario del Huila, January 8, 2008, The events took place at the home of the two girls in the IDP settlement of Altos de Oriente, when the perpetrators (amongthem two minors) made a violent incursion into the home and stabbed repeatedly the two minors, raping one of them. CINEPDatabank on Sociopolitical Violence., Revista Noche y Niebla, No. 34/35, Page 239. Calle 72 Nº 12-65 piso 7 PBX: (571) 3768200 – (571) 3434710 Fax : (571) 3768230 1 Email : Website: Bogotá, Colombia
  2. 2. COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DE JURISTAS 2 Organización no gubernamental con status consultivo ante la ONU Filial de la Comisión Internacional de Juristas (Ginebra) y de la Comisión Andina de Juristas (Lima) PERSONERÍA JURÍDICA : RESOLUCIÓN 1060, AGOSTO DE 1988 DE LA ALCALDÍA MAYOR DE BOGOTÁof her lower limbs and injuries in the other, and the baby girl received the shock waveand was left for hours lying next to her mother’s corpse, suffering the effects of thecold and hunger until she finally died. The relatives and neighbors of the victims hadto carry out the search and rescue of the corpses.6Furthermore, on March 24, 2008, in Santacruz Guachavez (Nariño), a 12 year-old boywas assassinated by presumed members of the guerrilla group ELN. The victim diedwhen he stepped on a landmine that was planted, according to the mayor’s office, bythe guerrilla group ELN. The boy was in fifth grade and was the son of HernánArteaga, member of the town council of Guachavez. 7The majority of the lesions suffered by girls and boys registered in the past year werecaused by the use of weapons banned by humanitarian law (anti-personnel mines,arms with indiscriminate effects, booby traps, etc.). On March 25, 2008, in Argelia(Cauca), two children were wounded in an attack with explosives attributed to theguerrilla group FARC-EP. The victims, 7 and 9 years old, suffered lesions in theirarms when five rounds of anfo (ammonium nitrate fuel oil) and dynamite exploded inthe town square of the municipality. 8The right to personal freedom has also been gravely violated. The taking of boysand girls as hostages by the FARC-EP and supposedly demobilized paramilitaries hasalso been registered. In January 2008, the situation that a child born in captivity had toendure finally came to light. It had to do with the son of Clara Rojas, a woman whowas kidnapped by the guerrilla group FARC-EP and was kept in captivity for morethan five years. The boy was in the hands of the armed group during the first fewmonths of his life together with his mother, but he was later handed over to JoséCrisanto Gómez, a man who said that after the FARC-EP gave him the boy, he tookhim to the hospital in San José del Guaviare (300 kilometers to the southeast ofBogotá). Emmanuel was born on July 20, 2004, and was taken to a hospital in thesouth of the country on June 15, 2005; some months later, the state welfare agencyICBF found the boy in situation of abandonment and referred him to one of itsassistance programs. However, after efforts were made to liberate three of thekidnapped people, among them the boy, at the moment of the liberation of his motherin January of 2008 the state informed public opinion that the child had been under itsjurisdiction for a few months already. 9Additionally, members of the state security forces violated the right to freedom ofgirls and boys through arbitrary detentions. Among the victims is an indigenous child,6 “Martha nunca quiso dejar la montaña” [Martha never wanted to leave the mountain], El Tiempo daily newspaper, March 3,2008, pages 1-9; “Campesina y sus dos bebés mueren en campo minado” [Campesino woman and her two babies die in minedfield] El Tiempo daily newspaper, January 29, 2008, Pp. 1-13; and “Mueren madre y pequeña hija al pisar mina” [Mother andher small daughter die after stepping on landmine], El País daily newspaper, January 29, 2008, “Mina antipersona mató a niño de 12 años” [Anti-personnel mine killed 12 year-old boy], El Tiempo daily newspaper, March23 2008, pp.. 1-6; “Un estudiante fue otra víctima de las minas” [A student became another victim of mines], Diario del Sur,March 25, 2008,;8 “Ejército contrarresta avance de subversivos” [Army counteracts advance of the subversives], El País daily newspaper, March26, 2008, “Clara Rojas visita a su hijo Emmanuel en un orfanato de Bogotá” [Clara Rojas visits her son in an orphanage in Bogotá] ElPaís daily newspaper, January 14, 2008,; “ICBF entregará a Emmanuel cuando Clara Rojas lo decida” [ICBFwill hand over Emmanuel whenever Clara Rojas so decides] El Tiempo daily newspaper, January 11, 2008,“FARC/rehenes: el acertijo del ADN” [FARC/hostages: the puzzle of the ADN], BBC World/Latin America, Thursday, March 3,2008, in Calle 72 Nº 12-65 piso 7 PBX: (571) 3768200 – (571) 3434710 Fax : (571) 3768230 2 Email : Website: Bogotá, Colombia
  3. 3. COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DE JURISTAS 3 Organización no gubernamental con status consultivo ante la ONU Filial de la Comisión Internacional de Juristas (Ginebra) y de la Comisión Andina de Juristas (Lima) PERSONERÍA JURÍDICA : RESOLUCIÓN 1060, AGOSTO DE 1988 DE LA ALCALDÍA MAYOR DE BOGOTÁthe son of a community leader, as well as campesino girls and boys. During thesedetentions, the girls and boys are attacked physically and verbally, and on manyoccasions they are singled out as being guerrilla members. On February 23, 2007, inthe city of Bogotá, two Kankuamo indigenous boys, Harold and Duver VillazónPinto, 15 and 16 years old respectively, were arbitrarily detained by members of theNational Police. The event took place as the two youths were on their way home fromthe “Camilo Torres” School. After they were detained and taken to the police stationon Calle 26/Carrera 7, they were subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment and werefinally freed at 10 p.m. after being victims of harassment.10With respect to sexual violence against young women and girls, such acts continue tobe a recurrent practice that seriously affects their personal integrity. Members of theguerrilla, paramilitary groups and state security forces continue to commit acts that goagainst the personal integrity of women, seriously affecting their sexual andreproductive rights and making it less and less feasible that young women and girlscan enjoy the right to a life free of violence.The involvement of boys, girls, and adolescents in armed groups or armed forcesthat take part in the hostilities is a situation that raises great concern. Thisinvolvement can take place directly, through the recruitment of boys and girls so theywill join the ranks of the combatant groups; or indirectly, in activities such as spying,acting as look-outs or messengers, or in domestic or sexual services, among otheractivities.11The guerrilla groups continue to be perpetrators of the crime of recruitment of girlsand boys.12 Thus, on April 1, 2008, in the municipality of Samaná (Caldas), a 15 year-old girl, the victim of recruitment by the 47th Front of the guerrilla group FARC-EP,gave herself up to the National Army. 13Additionally, schools are still being used by the paramilitary groups that control thelives of girls and boys, punishing them and recruiting them through threats andfinancial offers. In the month of April 2008, in the department of Antioquia,complaints were registered about the incursion of paramilitary groups in schools.Presumed paramilitaries entered educational facilities in the corregimiento of SanCristóbal en Medellín (Antioquia) to punish the children who in their opinion behavedbadly, cutting their hair and threatening them. The respective school human rightsadvocates in San Cristóbal and Medellín agree in pointing out that many complaintshave been registered, that the cases correspond to actions involving paramilitary10 It is worth pointing out that these indigenous children are displaced and are victims of persecution, since it is not the firstarbitrary detention to which the children of this indigenous family are subjected. In April, 2006, Duvier Daniel Villazón Pinto hewas threatened with a gun and forced to leave a store on South 33rd Street/Caracas Avenue, by members of the Police CAI of theGuastavo Restrepo quarter. This situation was not denounced because it was considered an isolated incident, but taking the tretasinto account, the breaking and entering, and other arbirary detentions the father and the smaller brothers were subjected to, itbecomes evident that we are dealing with the persecution o fan indigenous family by members of the state security forces.Information available in the denunciations data base of the Colombian Commission of Jurists, Denunciations Nº. D- 06269, D-06270 y D-06272. Revista Noche y Niebla, No. 34/35, February 23/2007, Bogota-Cundinamarca, p. 212.11 See in this respect, VII Informe sobre violencia sociopolítico contra mujeres, jóvenes y niñas en Colombia, 2006-2007.[Seventh report on sociopolitical violence against women, young people and girls in Colombia, 2006-2007.]12 “Varios niños guerrilleros han desertado de las Farc” [Several guerrillero children have deserted from the FARC], Diario delSur, March 24, 2008, “Se entregó quinceañera del Frente 47 de las Farc” [15 year-old girl from the 47th Front of the FARC gave herself up], LaPatria, daily, April 2, 2008, Calle 72 Nº 12-65 piso 7 PBX: (571) 3768200 – (571) 3434710 Fax : (571) 3768230 3 Email : Website: Bogotá, Colombia
  4. 4. COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DE JURISTAS 4 Organización no gubernamental con status consultivo ante la ONU Filial de la Comisión Internacional de Juristas (Ginebra) y de la Comisión Andina de Juristas (Lima) PERSONERÍA JURÍDICA : RESOLUCIÓN 1060, AGOSTO DE 1988 DE LA ALCALDÍA MAYOR DE BOGOTÁcontrol, and that such violations of the rights of boys and girls take placecontinuously. 14Likewise, cases have been observed of indirect involvement of boys and girls by thestate security forces through integration activities or their use in military tasks or asinformants. The use by the state forces of demobilized children as informants orguides to find the camps of the groups they belong to has been amply documented bythe Ombudsman’s Office.Regarding the demobilization process of boys and girls, serious obstacles arise. Onthe one hand, according to information of the Ombudsman’s Office, only 12.2% ofthe children in the assistance program of the ICBF have said they arrived theredirectly, 32,6% arrived at police stations, and 58,9% at military battalions. On theother hand, the situation of the few children who are able to leave the armed groupsand are currently part of the assistance program of the ICBF does not improvesubstantially. 15The situation of abuse of the rights of boys and girls who continue to be involved inparamilitary groups that did not demobilize, that changed their denomination or thatrearmed is extremely worrisome. Although the government has claimed that suchstructures are related to common delinquency, the truth is that various reports –among them, some written by the OAS mission of support to the peace process,MAPP/OEA – consider the phenomenon as much more complex, and that is thereason why there are no guarantees that the children will be handed over to the ICBFassistance program.16Finally, forced displacement remains a problem of great concern; as theConstitutional Court determined, it is an unconstitutional state of affairs that putsboys, girls, and adolescents in a situation of extreme vulnerability. 17 In this sense, theSecretary General in his report indicated that “the recruitment of children and internaldisplacement are closely related, as in Colombia, since in many cases displacement isthe only means that the families in certain areas have to keep their children frombeing recruited by armed groups.” 18Bogotá, May 200814 “Incursión al colegio fue para, Personería” [Incursion in school was by paramilitaries], El Colombiano daily, April 24, 2008,; “En colegio paras castigaron alumnos” [Paramilitaries punished students in school] Caracol Noticias,April 22, 2008, in Sala de Videos (Noticias, Nacional, Conflicto Armado) en Ombudsman’s delegate for the rights of children, youths and women, and United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef,Caracterización de las niñas, niños y adolescentes desvinculados de los grupos armados ilegales: Inserción social y productivadesde un enfoque de derechos humanos, Bogotá, 2006.16 Ninth Quarterly Report of the Secretary General to the Permanent Council on the Support Mission to the Peace Process inColombia (MAPP/OEA), OEA/Ser.G CP/doc. 4237/07, 3 julio 2007, pág. 5.17 Consitutional Court Sentence T-025 de 2004.18 Report of the Secretary General to the United Nations Security Council on children and armed conflicts, December 21, 2007,A/62/609–S/2007/757, Paragraph 6. Calle 72 Nº 12-65 piso 7 PBX: (571) 3768200 – (571) 3434710 Fax : (571) 3768230 4 Email : Website: Bogotá, Colombia