N° 06/09




Washington, D.C., February 20, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killings of Awá indigenous people carried out at the beginning of February in the department of Nariño, Colombia.


In a communiqué dated February 17, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) admitted responsibility in the killings of eight members of the Awá indigenous people on February 6, 2009. Moreover, civil society sources informed the Commission about the killings of other members of the Awá indigenous people from the Tortugaña Telembi and El Sande reserves. These crimes have also been attributed to the FARC.


According to news accounts, these acts of violence have led to the displacement of hundreds of Awá people from their territories. The information available also indicates that Awá reserves are surrounded by antipersonnel landmines, which hampers their members’ movement and makes access difficult for authorities and humanitarian organizations.


The IACHR repudiates the acts of violence and the grave infringements of international humanitarian law perpetrated against the Awá people, and urges the State to investigate the facts and bring those responsible to justice. In addition, the IACHR reiterates its concern regarding the security situation of indigenous peoples living in areas affected by the armed conflict. In this regard, it asks the State to adopt the necessary measures to protect them, and to refrain from actions that could endanger the life and physical integrity of their members, particularly the Awá people.   


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.


Read this press release in Spanish / Lea este comunicado de prensa en español


Press contact: María Isabel Rivero
Tel. (202) 458-3867
Cell: (202) 215-4142

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