INSPP statement for March 6 2011

Video exposing Colombian police brutality

This very recent short documentary (in Spanish) exposes Police brutality in Colombia. It features comments by Yuli Enriques of the human rights organisations Lazos de Dignidad and Traspasa Los Muros

Call for justice for the victims in the case against Lieutenant Raul Munoz

The following is a public denunciation (in Spanish) of the behaviour of the defence team for Lieutenant Raul Mu帽oz who is accused in regard to events that took place in Tame in the Colombian department of Arauca in October last year. The defence has been criticised for delaying and disrespecting the court in the trial of these horrendous crimes. This background is taken from Colombia Reports from last November:

"An abuse scandal builds against the Colombian army's 5th Brigade as General Alejandro Navas announces that a聽sub-lieutenant confessed to raping two girls in October.

"Raul Mu帽oz Linares confessed to raping two girls in the municipality of Tame, in the Auraca department, on October 12 and 14,聽Navas told W Radio.

"General Navas said that the prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for "violent sexual intercourse" against Mu帽oz.

"The officer "acknowledged that he had relations with these girls" and is now being held in detention in Tame, Navas explained.

"One of the assaults Mu帽oz confessed to is thought to be that of Jenny Torres Jaimes,13, who wasmurdered along with her two younger brotherson October 14.

"The latest revelation follows news last week that a soldier from the 5th Brigade is suspected of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl on October 2, close to the site where the聽three Torres children were killedearlier this month..

"The army commander announced Tuesday that seven military officers have been suspended over the murder of the three siblings, aged 14, 9, and 6 years, who were found with signs of torture four days after they disappeared on October 14 in a mass grave, 100 meters from where the soldiers are based. The officers are accused of failing to control the men under their command"


鈥淢aniobras de la defensa del teniente Mu帽oz dilatan realizaci贸n de la audiencia por el asesinato de los hermanitos Torres Jaimes, e聽 intimidaci贸n permanente a las comunidades de las veredas Ca帽o Camame y el Temblador-municipio de Tame鈥

El聽 Comit茅 Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos DENUNCIA, ante la Fiscal铆a General de la Naci贸n, la Procuradur铆a General de la Naci贸n, la Defensor铆a Nacional del Pueblo聽 y ante las organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos nacionales e internacionales, las reiteradas maniobras dilatorias de la defensa del sub-teniente RAUL MU脩OZ que han impedido desarrollar con normalidad la audiencia preparatoria, sobre el horrendo聽 crimen de los tres ni帽os ocurrida el 14 de octubre de 2010 en la vereda Ca帽o Temblador municipio de Tame y que conmovi贸 a toda la sociedad.

聽La audiencia fue citada por el Juzgado Penal Especializado de Saravena para los d铆as 22 y 23 de febrero, donde la 聽defensa 聽deb铆a 聽aportar las 聽pruebas a favor del teniente MU脩OZ 聽seg煤n lo acordado con 聽anterioridad, al reanudarse la audiencia el mi茅rcoles 23 de febrero la defensa del teniente enuncio un sinn煤mero de documentos, y ante la petici贸n de la juez de hacerlas p煤blicas aludieron que no ten铆an los documentos en su poder y que las har铆an llegar despu茅s, posteriormente solicitaron la suspensi贸n de la audiencia argumentando falta de garant铆as.

La juez califico la actitud de la defensa como temer铆a, desleal, irresponsable e irrespetuosa con las v铆ctimas,聽 la justica y la sociedad que ha mostrado alto inter茅s en este caso al que llamo de 鈥渢rascendencia nacional e internacional鈥.

Mientras se obstruyen y aplazan las audiencias impidiendo una pronta, veraz y eficaz justicia, las comunidades de las veredas Ca帽o Camame y Ca帽o Temblador donde ocurrieron los repudiables hechos vienen siendo intimidadas y atemorizadas por integrantes del ejercito que haciendocen pasar por funcionarios de la Defensor铆a del Pueblo les realizan extensos y largos interrogatorios sobre los hechos.

El CPDH Arauca hace un urgente llamado a los organismos de control, a las organizaciones defensoras de derechos humanos, a la comunidad nacional e internacional y聽 a los medios de comunicaci贸n, para que presten especial atenci贸n a la manera como se adelanta el proceso y sobre todo frente a la actitud de sabotaje y obstrucci贸n a la justicia por parte de la defensa del teniente MU脩OZ聽 y la forma permanente como se viene intimidando y presionando a las comunidades y testigos. 聽

Arauca-1 de marzo de 2011


Liliany Obando: Colombian political prisoner

W. T. Whitney Jr.

When the Colombian state arrested her on August 8, 2008, sociologist and documentary film maker Liliany Obando, mother of two, was serving as human rights director and fund raiser for Fensuagro, Colombia鈥檚 largest agricultural workers鈥 union. 聽A week earlier, she鈥檇 issued a report documenting 1500 union members murdered or disappeared since 1976.

Animosity against Fensuagro from on high is a natural. Many members, poverty stricken peasants, had been driven off small land holdings so that industrialized agriculture and megaprojects could proceed. State security forces and paramilitaries did the dirty work. The union, with 80,000 members and 37 union affiliates, has resisted. As an effective human rights advocate, Obando was ripe for the picking. She would be silenced and a cautioned Fensuagro be brought to heel, eventually.

Obando and other political prisoners are prisoners of empire. Big money sway in Colombia rests on militarization and repressive modalities, including prisons. That鈥檚 where U.S. financing and direction fit in.

Unions and human rights groups in Europe, Canada, and Australia are supporting Obando. She鈥檚 gained emblematic status among 7500 political prisoners in Colombian jails. Many have never been tried, or, like Obando, are subjected to glacially slow judicial processes.

Two recent developments in her situation are of likely interest to those following her case and to Colombia watchers generally. 聽A judicial hearing was held on January 20. 聽And a revealing interview has circulated on alternative Spanish language news sources. Excerpts appear in translation below.

The recent hearing followed others interspersed amongst two brief trial sessions, one in August, 2009, a year after her arrest, and another a year later. Testimony from a police functionary reinforced earlier Defense Ministry testimony to the effect that the whereabouts over three days almost three years ago of supposedly incriminating computer files is a mystery, that documentation of a chain of custody then is lacking, and that the files were word documents rather than emails, as alleged by the Colombian government. The former are easily manipulated.

The Colombian military allegedly took possession of the files from computers seized on March 1, 2008 when a FARC guerrilla encampment was attacked in Ecuador. They belonged to top FARC leader Raul Reyes who was killed in the U.S. assisted raid. Computer emails studied afterwards allegedly demonstrate collaboration between Obando and Reyes. That鈥檚 the basis for charges against her of rebellion and complicity with terrorism.

The court judging Obando reportedly is waiting for testimony from Canadian unionists that that they were donating to Fensuagro rather than supporting guerrilla insurgents.聽聽

The judge in Obando鈥檚 case has now heard testimony suggesting officials had ample opportunity to alter files to present a picture of terrorist ties... Coincident with her arrest, 11 other leftist political figures and journalists were similarly fingered, but she was the only one jailed. 聽

Her story highlights the phenomenon of prisons and incarcerations as a link in Colombia鈥檚 chain of repression and war against the poor. In addition to political prisoners, victims include four million Colombians displaced from their land, 50 percent of rural Colombians living in poverty, and tens of thousands of unionists, indigenous peoples, students, and leftists killed or disappeared.

The U.S. government provides funding and direction for Colombian prisons whose capacity from 2000 on increased 40 percent, with political prisoners up 300 percent. From 63,000 prisoners in 2007, there were 106,000 last year. With burgeoning arrests of activists in January, along with a flurry of reports on torture and suicides inside prisons, silence on prisons becomes difficult to maintain.

After her arrest, Liliany Obando described herself as a 鈥渃ommunist political prisoner, prisoner of conscience, and survivor of genocide against the Patriotic Union.鈥 She tells something of who she is in a late January interview.

Excerpts from interview with Liliany Obando

See transcript and listen to audio at,

What are they accusing you of?

What鈥檚 happening to thousands of us men and women is that we are in opposition to a State and some governments we regard as unjust. They accuse us of 鈥渞ebellion.鈥澛 And furthermore, to make penalties more severe, Colombian justice for some years has resorted to assigning penalties for any connection with terrorist activities whatever. In my case, I am accused of rebellion鈥 and 鈥渕anaging resources related to terrorist activities.鈥

The process I am involved with has its origins in Operation Phoenix. Phoenix is the operation in which the Colombian Army, together apparently with foreign military forces, intruded illegally into the territory of another country, Ecuador, and the process turns on the supposed acquisition at that campsite of computer files, illegally acquired聽 鈥 Without an order, with no authorization from a competent authority in the other country, 鈥減roofs鈥 are nullified. But more, there鈥檚 been after- the - fact manipulation of the same supposed evidence.

Frame up of human rights defenders

They have tried to put a smoke screen around the 鈥減ara-politics鈥 scandal (paramilitaries tied to politicians). For that, they needed to create something designated as 鈥淔ARC 鈥 politics.鈥

When one works for truth, for peace, for justice, then one has to require that all this be clarified. Let there be truth and clarity about what happened there. That鈥檚 where all this process of 鈥淔ARC - politics鈥 came from and allowed them to put many people in the public pillory. And beginning with that supposed 鈥渆vidence,鈥 they鈥檙e hoping to pass judgment on many more.

We who are taking on serious work in defense of human rights are persecuted. My work has to do with bringing human rights tools and legal material to peasant communities 鈥 carry out work in the communities directed at popular education and shaping of human rights.聽 That鈥檚 what disturbs governments, all of them: that there are people defending the human rights of the most vulnerable populations of Colombia.聽

I could be dead at this moment. 鈥 Any of us who defend human rights in Colombia, trade unionists, for example, take on high- risk work 鈥 receiving threatening calls, being on black lists, in intelligence reports.

Rights of mothers who are political prisoners

They鈥檝e found no legal basis for denying me, as they do, detention at home ... To be in a jail in my capacity as a sociologist has allowed me to do field work on the penitentiary and imprisonment situation. It鈥檚 chaotic. There鈥檚 no policy thinking about rehabilitation鈥 In the case of women, prison policies have never contemplated the condition of gender.

That鈥檚 seen in the situation with children. They allow a visit from our small children less than 12 years old only once a month. This creates a difficult situation. Some boys and girls live together with us on the inside, and it鈥檚 a very difficult situation. There are children that have a different level of psychosocial development [and are] subjected to situations of abuse, shouts, situations that a small child must not be living through.

In prisons where there are mothers with their children, there are no adequate infirmaries鈥here is the looming threat that children are going to be taken off to 鈥渇amily welfare鈥 [and removed from their mothers.] Also in some women鈥檚 prisons there exist infant and toddler nurseries but they are not attended by suitable personnel鈥 There have been attempts to violate some of these children in the nursery, or abuse physically.

Personally I have suffered more than enough persecution from INPEC personnel. (National Penitentiary and Prison Institute)聽 Here in prison, I have tried to keep on with my work as a human rights defender. We see a multitude of human rights offenses and I have taken on protests along these lines, and this obviously has led to animosity toward me on the part of custodial personnel. Many situations working against the rest of the comrades too, degrading treatment, humiliations, and resort to non-allowed punishments, are part of our daily lives. [There are] situations of torture and depredations against even the minimal conditions of life.

Political prisoners in general

Prison conditions are rigorous for everybody, but for us political prisoners, they are even more difficult. We are considered 鈥渋nternal enemies.鈥 For example, we are in a high security pavilion, isolated, restricted, and living under severe conditions. On the other hand, there are pavilions with privileges like those for 鈥減ara-political鈥 or white collar prisoners.

What happens to political convictions?

They locked up my body, but my commitment remains firm: They aren鈥檛 going to break me by putting me behind bars. On the contrary, the so many injustices we see against political prisoners confirm for us the justice of struggle for a different country. Nevertheless I have to say that the state tries to bend and to break the moral of political prisoners in every possible way.聽 In fact we denounce the 鈥淟aw of Justice and Peace鈥 and all these immoral inducements to lie, to hand over, to finger others also committed to social struggle鈥e ask under national and international laws that they respect us and respect our classification as political prisoners鈥hen they mix us in with paramilitaries, they put our security at risk and that of people visiting us.

7500 political prisoners: what do the media say?

鈥淚 think that communications media ought to carry out the function of informing and not of misinforming鈥.They ought also to give a passing glance to what鈥檚 happening in the prisons, with their thousands and thousands of political prisoners 鈥any of them innocent. They鈥檙e in prison for having voiced criticism of the State.

Imprisonment up during January, 2011

We are persecuted and judged.聽 Strength is needed, and morale must be high. One has to keep going forward, for the sake of a new Colombia, distinct, democratic, and encompassing the social justice we need. No matter where we are called from, the struggle continues. We inside prison think our protests must continue, even from behind bars.聽 We think people in situations of persecution don鈥檛 have to be abandoned to fear鈥 As a political opposition, we know these situations are part of our struggle. I would call upon social organizations: that they not abandon their members when they land in prison, when they come upon a difficult situation. That鈥檚 because it鈥檚 good for the struggle to continue from wherever the social activist finds himself or herself.

International campaign for your liberation

There鈥檚 been a campaign for my release, and I am clear that this campaign is not a campaign for an individual but we have made it into an extensive campaign for all the political prisoners in Colombia. There are many social organizations from the most diverse regions that have backed us. Many human rights organizations, unions, and personalities have converged.

What about resistance among peasants, indigenous, and Afro-Colombians?

A fraternal embrace! All of my solidarity towards all those women and men fighting for a life of dignity 鈥 Oh, that they continue on, in spite of difficulties involved with social struggle in Colombia, because we deserve a peaceful and more just country.

The computer 鈥渆vidence鈥 is invalid

We tell them that that from the point of view of international and national law, the 鈥渆vidence鈥 is null and void. Nevertheless, as we have seen in my process, they are moving ahead.聽 That鈥檚 been my struggle in all of this: to demonstrate the illegality and invalidation of these 鈥減roofs,鈥 because it鈥檚 not only Liliany Obando who is in prison today, but they are presuming to apply the same 鈥減roofs鈥 to many more people.聽 And at that point this would also have to become a collective struggle.

Read interview (in Spanish) also at:, or, on January 28, 201l, at:"hay-siete-mil-quinientos-presos-pol铆ticos-de-los-que-no-se-habla-nunca"-