Congressional Human Rights Caucus Briefing
"The Colombian Conflict: The Victims’ Search for Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation in Colombia"
LAWG invited four members of the Colombian Victims' Movement to the U.S. to speak directly with policymakers in Washington and New York. The delegation testified in front of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the House of Representatives. Below is the testimony of Milliret Moncada Peña of ASFADDES, Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, Colombia.
Honorable Members of Congress:
"The international community must be on the side of the victims”
The National Movement of Victims of State Crimes asserts before the international community of the United States that law 975/05, the so-called Law of Justice and Peace, is not conducive to overcoming impunity for crimes committed in Colombia, nor to peace or democracy. Its mechanisms intentionally avoid revealing and punishing State responsibility in the sponsorship and development of the paramilitary strategy. It also allows the material and intellectual authors of grave violations of human rights to continue concealing their identities, their institutional motivations and the benefits that they have obtained through methods of systematic criminality.
This law of impunity, presented as a law of “justice and peace,” inhibits the victims from being part of legal cases with guarantees before the courts of law and from participating fully in the decision-making about procedures that relate to their fundamental rights. The recourses provided by the law do not permit the full explanation of the facts, the rigorous application of justice nor adequate compensation for the damages incurred.
For these, among many other reasons, the movement of victims of state violence has requested that authorities declare unconstitutional the measures established in the law and has filed a petition of unconstitutionality before the appropriate court, which in this case is the Constitutional Court.
In the light of these arguments criticizing the process of impunity that conceals the strengthening of paramilitary structures within a legal context, the Movement of Victims of State Crimes evaluates the creation of the National Commission of Reparations and Reconciliation. This agency does not have the minimal conditions of independence and democratic representation that would lend it credibility. Its formation has occurred without a prior process of participation and consultation with the associations of victims, families and survivors who truly represent the political, ethnic and social groups affected by State and paramilitary violence. The process of formation of the Commission is a product of the current government’s preferences rather than of a democratic negotiation with civil society.
Currently there are not favorable conditions for victims’ participation in the country; they continue to be silenced by paramilitary and mafia structures, their properties continue to be taken by force and the titles legalized under pressure.
The demobilization covers up generalized practices of social and political control over the population. Under these circumstances, there are not the necessary prerequisites to ensure the protection of the lives of those who would be involved in the legal cases which should be part of the work of a Reparations Commission.
The Movement of Victims of State Crimes, an organized and representative expression of persons and communities that are firm in their search for truth, justice and meaningful reparation, calls on the government of the United States to support the strengthening of victims’ initiatives in the current environment of increasing social, political and economic control by the paramilitary groups in Colombia. We believe that the international community needs to be with the victims and not the victimizers.
Case: Humberto Moncada Brito
Detained-Disappeared on the 6th of July, 1983 in Neiva-Huila.
At 5:30am on the 6th of June, 1983, Humberto Moncada Brito [Milliret Moncada Peña’s father] was disappeared while leaving his workplace, a store that was located in the neighborhood Diego de Ospina, in the city of Neiva. According to rumors from various neighbors, he was taken by two unknown men, who forced him to get into a yellow car.
When it was noticed that he had not returned home, his wife began to
look for him in a number of places (the police, F2, security police DAS, jails and other places such as hospitals and arenas) without finding any answers regarding his whereabouts.
Background. Four years before his disappearance, Humberto Moncada was living in the region of Pato, Caquetá Department. He lived there for three and a half years. During this time, he helped build schools with ICETEX. Afterwards, he decided to continue to living there and decided to form a cooperative.
Because of his work with the agrarian union to defend farmers' interests, confrontations with the army began. From that point, he began to receive threats against his life and freedom. On one occasion when he was on his way to visit his three children who
studied in Neiva and to fulfill some work duties, he was detained by F2 agents who drove him to the police, where he was tortured by being hung from his arms for six hours. Afterwards, they turned him over to the 9th Brigade of Neiva, where he was once again submitted to torture. After many requests and with a revolver pointed at his head, they forced him to sign a document that confirmed that he had been treated well. He was released only because of the pressure that was communicated through the radio and in written form from his friends and his oldest daughter. One year later, in 1980, there was an exodus of farmers from the region of Pato towards the city of Neiva, because of the confrontations between the army and guerrilla.
Humberto Moncada was the person who led the exodus of farmers and it was because of this that they continued to threaten him. On a number of occasions, he was detained again and interrogated by the army. All of these occurrences caused his family to denounce the Colombian government as being responsible for his disappearance. The disappearance occurred under circumstances that are still unknown and the Colombian government has made no effort to clear up the facts.
Disciplinary case. The facts were presented to the regional Inspector General of the city of Neiva, but the case was closed because of a lack of evidence.
Criminal case. Assigned to jury 15 of criminal cases, presided over by the 5th Judge of the same city, the case was closed for lack of evidence.