the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights appeals to the parties to the armed conflict in colombia to cease indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population



          1.          Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) vehemently rejects the recent indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population in the municipalities of Bojayá and Vigía del Fuerte in the Department of Chocó, Republic of Colombia.  In particular, the Commission is dismayed by the events of May 2, 2002, when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) launched a cylinder of gas into the Catholic Chapel of Bellavista, where the civilian population had sought refuge during an armed confrontation between that group and an AUC (Colombian United Self-Defense) cell.  This outrageous violation of the principles enshrined by international humanitarian law–the nature and severity of which entail individual criminal liability at the international level for the FARC members involved–left at least 117 civilians dead, many of them minors, and a similar number of wounded victims.


2.               The Commission is concerned over the humanitarian crisis besetting the population of that part of the Department of Chocó, which has had to move in the crossfire between the FARC and the AUC.  In addition, the IACHR continues to receive complaints on the consequences of a recent military counter-offensive allegedly taking the form of indiscriminate aerial attacks, affecting the inhabitants of Bellavista, Vigía del Fuerte, and the Afro-Colombian communities of Napipí and Murindó, and threatening to affect other communities nearby.


3.          In view of the situation in the Department of Chocó, the IACHR renews its call to the parties to the conflict, in particular to the FARC, to respect the fundamental standards and principles of international human rights law and international humanitarian law and to refrain from indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population.



Washington, D.C., May 10, 2002