In 2018, Colombia is going through a period of political and social transition. At the same time, it has a historic opportunity to rescue the voice of more than 8 million victims of the armed conflict.
These are our calls to action in relation to four of the issues that most concern us in the country.
The armed conflict
- We urge the newly elected administration and members of parliament in 2018 to make the humanitarian response to victims of the conflict and armed violence a priority in their political agenda.
- In the years to come, the country's leaders must undertake to comply with the humanitarian aspects of the Peace Agreement and ensure that the resources needed for their implementation are available.
- Humanitarian agreements must be adopted as part of the talks between the Government and ELN; such agreements must have a real impact on the lives of people who have suffered because of the conflict.
- We reiterate our call to the security forces and all armed groups – including the ELN, AGC, EPL and structures from the former FARC-EP Eastern Bloc that did not join the peace process – to observe international humanitarian law and other humanitarian rules and keep the civil population out of hostilities.
- We remind the State of its obligation to limit the use of force under an IHL framework to groups involved in situations of armed conflict, as defined under international law.
- The Missing Persons Search Unit (UBPD) must maintain its extrajudicial and humanitarian roles and have sufficient human and financial resources allocated to it.
- Victims' organizations need support to strengthen their position and participate in the search process: Family members must always be included, receive information and be treated with dignity. State authorities must respond effectively to their needs.
- We remind all parties that are or have been involved in the armed conflict of their obligation to provide any useful information they might have concerning the fate of people reported missing during the conflict.
- It is urgent for the Colombian State to ensure that it has a constant presence in the country's most isolated areas, with a focus on social reconstruction (e.g. guaranteeing basic services, ensuring public participation, taking advantage of sustainable opportunities). Any such State presence should not be limited to land or police control.
- We call on the State to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of communities affected by new types of armed violence, including the most vulnerable urban areas.
The worsening prison crisis
- We urge the new government to strongly commit to making concrete progress towards solving the crisis in the prison system.
- We stress that alternatives to detention should be used systematically and set forth in Colombian legislation in specific cases.
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