The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has become aware that the so-called "Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia" a paramilitary organizationhas taken responsibility for the kidnapping of John Jairo Bedoya Carvajal, Jorge Heriberto Salazar, Claudia María Tamayo and Olga Ruth Rodas, members of the Popular Institute for Training (IPC), a non-governmental organization devoted to research in the field of human rights. The kidnapping took place last Thursday, January 28, in Medellín, Republic of Colombia. The Commission has also received information that on January 30, Julio Ernesto González and Everardo de Jesús Puerta members of the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners were murdered in the motorway Medellín-Bogotá.
In view of these recent events, the IACHR must reiterate its very deep concern over the fact that those persons working for the protection of human rights in Colombia, either as members of non-governmental organizations or as officials of certain State organs, have come increasingly under threat and been subject to attack in the context of the armed conflict.
The IACHR wishes to express its emphatic condemnation of such intimidation and attacks as well as of the murder of the members of the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, and the kidnapping of the four IPC members, in particular. International law protects the right to personal integrity of every person and prohibits summary executions and hostage taking under any circumstance, both in times of peace and armed conflict. The mere political, professional or institutional afiliation of these human rights defenders in no way can justify depriving them of their life and liberty.
The Commission urges those who are holding hostage John Jairo Bedoya Carvajal, Jorge Heriberto Salazar, Claudia María Tamayo y Olga Ruth Rodas to respect their life and personal integrity and release them immediately. At the same time, the Commission urges the Colombian State to intervene decidedly and take all necessary steps to find these persons and protect their personal integrity, and to fulfill its obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the kidnapping and the murder of Julio Ernesto González and Everardo de Jesús Puerta.
Washington, D.C., February 4, 1999