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UN human rights chief welcomes Colombian move to fire army officers

UN human rights chief welcomes Colombian move to fire army officers

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay
The United Nations human rights chief today praised Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe for dismissing three army generals and 24 other officers over the alleged illegal killing of civilians in the South American country.

“I support the commitment expressed by the highest civilian and military authorities that progress in security should be achieved with full adherence to legality and respect for human rights,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay during her visit to Colombia.

Last month, the High Commissioner called on the authorities to take urgent measures to stop a wave of apparent extrajudicial executions after 25 bodies were found in the north of the country, according to a press released issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Office said it had already officially informed the authorities of other disappearances and deaths of young people who, according to various accounts, had been promised work in the provinces, only to be reported as killed in fighting with the army a couple of days later.

Ms. Pillay applauded the fact that these cases were being investigated by civil courts and encouraged the Colombian Attorney General to strengthen its Human Rights Unit to address all claims of illegal executions and enforced disappearances.

During her week-long visit of Colombia to review the country’s human rights situation, the High Commissioner has held meetings with Mr. Uribe and senior ministers, as well as with members of Congress, the judiciary, civil society and UN colleagues. She also plans to visit OHCHR field operations in the east of the country.