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Calls for investigation into killing of indigenous people in Colombia

The Colombian authorities are being urged to initiate an investigation into the killing of 27 Indigenous Awá People in the department of Nariño this month.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group killed 10 Awá on Wednesday, according to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC).

FARC is also reported to have been responsible for the death of 17 Awá on 4 February. There are also reports that an unknown number of Awá have been abducted.

In a public statement on Friday, Amnesty International called for an immediate and thorough investigation into the killings and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

 

"If verified, these killings represent yet another tragic example of the numerous serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses committed against Indigenous communities by all the parties to Colombia's long-running armed conflict, including guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and the security forces. The deliberate killing of civilians is a war crime," said Marcelo Pollack, Amnesty International’s Colombia Researcher.

Amnesty International called on the Colombian authorities to guarantee the safety of the humanitarian commission which is seeking to travel to the area to verify the facts. The organization also called on the guerrilla groups to prohibit the deliberate killing of civilians and to free all Awá and other civilians they hold captive.

Colombia's internal armed conflict has pitted the security forces and paramilitaries against guerrilla groups since the mid-1960s. It has been marked by extraordinary levels of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, with civilians by far the principal victims - tens of thousands have been killed, between three and four million have been internally displaced and thousands more have been subjected to enforced disappearance or abducted by the security forces, paramilitaries or guerrilla groups.

"All the warring parties must respect the right to life of Indigenous People, as well as that of other civilian communities, and ensure that they are not dragged into the conflict," said Marcelo Pollack.

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