PBI-Colombia accompanies Justice and Peace Commission observation mission in San Juan, Chocó

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On September 3, PBI-Colombia posted: “Today we accompany the Justice and Peace Commission on the coast of San Juan, Chocó, in a mission to observe and verify the conditions of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in a situation of displacement due to territorial disputes between armed actors in the zone.”

Colombia Informa has explained: “Since 2018, the collective territory of Afro communities and indigenous reservations in the middle of San Juan has been illegally militarized. This is a serious violation of human rights and of Law 70 of 1993, which recognizes the collective ownership of the land of Afro-Colombian communities.”

Most recently, the Colombian Pacific Human Rights Network (REDDHHPAC) has complained that the Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC) arrived in the area on August 13-15 and that there has been fighting with the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Telesur also reports that REDDHHPAC have stated that National Army troops have also entered the area and falsely identified themselves as either dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP), the AGC or the ELN.

The communities of the San Juan River have made a public appeal to the international community to contribute to the verification and protection of the civilian population.

On August 26, Contagio Radio reported that the Justice and Peace Commission has denounced that since the arrival of the AGC there have been massive displacements of Indigenous Wounaan communities.

That article adds: “Despite the strong humanitarian crisis and the various appeals to the State, no emergency humanitarian assistance has been provided, even with the visit of the Ombudsman’s Office. On the other hand, the military response has consisted of warning Indigenous communities to refrain from transiting by land or water due to the threat of the AGC without there being evidence of actions by the Public Force to combat this paramilitary structure.”

And it notes concerns about complicity between the National Army and the AGC under the pretext of confronting the ELN guerillas.

Furthermore: “[The Justice and Peace Commission] emphasizes that in the region there is also a permanent presence of the National Navy without so far developing actions to protect the lives of Indigenous and Black communities and without there being actions to combat the paramilitary structures that control the territory in full view of all.”

The Justice and Peace Commission has tweeted: “Murder, threats and displacement without a response from the State” as well as highlighting in this recent statement : “The human rights crisis and humanitarian crisis continue without a state response to the Black and Indigenous communities of this region.”

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