Top UN rights official voices concern about human rights situation in Colombia

Top UN rights official voices concern about human rights situation in Colombia

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, told the UN's main rights body today that she remained deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in Colombia, and warned that the continuing fighting there threatened the rule of law.

Over the past year, violations of the right to life, the right to personal integrity and other civil liberties continued unabated, Mrs. Robinson said in presenting her report on Colombia to the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

Many of the human rights violations have taken place in the context of the continuing armed conflict, the High Commissioner said, pointing both to increasing violence by guerrilla groups and the constant expansion and consolidation of paramilitary groups, who were among the main violators of human rights.

"The recent discontinuation of the peace talks between the Government and the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] guerrillas and the consequent escalation of the armed conflict are disappointing," the High Commissioner added.

Mrs. Robinson also expressed deep concern about the lack of results in addressing human rights protection, including the absence of follow-up to international recommendations. She said her office had observed first-hand the weakening capacity of the State and its institutions to address human rights concerns although the Government was at the same time strengthening the military to the detriment of civil institutions.

A consequence of that phenomenon was reflected in the passage of a recent law that had subordinated the civilian authority to the military, thereby undermining the rule of law and the violation of human rights, the High Commissioner said.