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Struggles with FARC Terrorism in Columbia

Since the collapse in February 2002 of peace talks between the government and the armed opposition group, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), internal conflict has further intensified and had a devastating effect on the civilian population. Security forces and their paramilitary allies continue are responsible for widespread and systematic violations of human rights. Armed opposition groups also continue to be responsible for numerous and repeated violations of international humanitarian law.

Furthermore, new government measures to crackdown on FARC terrorism risk dragging civilians further into the conflict. The creation of a network of civilian informants and "peasant soldiers" required to collaborate with the security forces puts civilians in danger of attacks by the other side in the conflict. Also, proposed legislation to enables civilians to bear assault weaponry and to grant pardons to members of illegal armed groups. It is highly likely that these policies could lead to a strengthening of paramilitarism. The proposal to grant judicial police powers to the armed forces may also strengthen impunity. It may also expose human rights defenders and other civil sectors of society to arbitrary criminal investigations which will expose them to a heightened risk of attack and tarnish them as subversive.

AI INDEX: AMR 23/028/2003 4 April 2003

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