Violations of human rights towards girls, boys and adolescents continue due to the armed conflict in Colombia

Public Statement

Bogota, November 6, 2019

Less than fifteen days before the thirtieth commemoration of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the organizations signing below express our rejection of the violent events against the Colombian childhood and adolescence in 2019, and especially in relation to the news known yesterday about the tragic death of at least eight girls and boys in a bomb attack by the end of August, which   outrages us and has us mourning today.

Yesterday, during the debate on the motion of censure against the defense minister, Mr. Guillermo Botero, summoned by senator Roy Barreras, it was evidenced that at least  eight underage people died in the bombing executed by the military forces at the end of August in San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá, where initially there had been fourteen deaths . This bombing had been presented by the defense minister as “a successful operation, in which fourteen FARC dissidents were killed”.

According to senator Barreras, per forensic medicine reports, fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen-year-old teenagers and a twelve-year-old girl  were among the deceased people, to which the defense minister answered by saying that the military operation had been “legal and subject to the international humanitarian law” since it was an attack against dissident combatants and assured that it was an operation endorsed by the prosecution, obviating that underage boys and girls linked directly to an armed group are first and foremost victims of recruitment and, therefore, victims of the armed conflict in conformity with the Colombian legal system, especially  the international instruments supported by Colombia regarding protection of children against the armed conflict, based on the prevalence of their human rights.

Likewise, the defense minister alleged that he was unaware that there were boys and girls inside the camp, thus omitting the complaints presented to the international organizations and Ombudsman Office made by the municipal ombudsman from Puerto Rico, Caquetá, Mr. Herner Carreño, who affirmed that “public ministry had been warned about the active presence of organized and armed groups who were recruiting children and the State did not do anything” and, in spite of that, the order was the lethal use of force, instructing to bomb the zone without been able to control its effects  which were, in this case, the death of boys, girls, and adolescents.

The omission and the ways the Colombian government excuses itself from its obligation of protecting the boys, girls, and adolescents victims of recruitment and use by armed groups are worrying, and so is the lack of  effective actions that prevent this violation of the rights of children and adolescents  in different zones in the country,  which have  been insisting and reporting for two years now a continuous increase of registered situations of this nature, and there are no concrete answers from the national government about a policy for prevention of recruitment and other types of violations against  boys and girls within the framework of the armed conflict.

Based on the aforementioned and other acts of violation against boys, girls, and adolescents occurred during the last weeks, the below signatory organizations demand:

To the Colombian State:

  1. To promote and launch effective measures for prevention and protection to avoid that more boys, girls and adolescents in the country continue to be engaged in armed groups, facing the need to respond to concrete cases reported from the territories, providing local authorities with measures to respond to the risk of linkage to the armed conflict from the principles of integral protection and the best interest of boys and girls.
  2. To develop actions that actually allow families, communities and local authorities to give notice and take actions on the threats and risk cases, as well as those related to the recruitment to groups belonging to the armed conflict.
  3. To acknowledge that the situations against boys, girls and adolescents exist, that although the dynamics and responsible actors have changed, violations of their rights continue in the country and effective measurements must be taken from a clear, concrete, suitable, and integral national public policy that is accountable for the levels of responsibility, commitment, and sanctions to those who fail to comply their duty of protection of the children and adolescents linked to the armed conflict.
  4. To adjust their actions and to always take into account their duty to protect boys, girls, and adolescents, serving their best interest as one of the main obligations regarding their human rights, as well as the principles of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity of IHL.
  5. To assume the protection of boys, girls, and adolescents as a priority, and to find the necessary humanitarian mechanisms to cease the recruitment and use, and particularly proceed to the disengagement of people under eighteen years of age who are part of the illegal armed groups of the country before taking military measurements that take the lives of the boys, girls, and adolescents victims of recruitment and use.

To the armed groups  

  1. To cease immediately the recruitment of boys, girls, and adolescents to their lines. There is no possible justification for them to be connected to the war and exposed to the effects of it.

Finally, we encourage all local, national, and international human rights organizations, as well as the United Nations system, the Inter American Human Rights system, and the international community in general to join this call for life and dignity of boys, girls, and adolescents in Colombia.

“A boy, girl, or adolescent will always be a victim of recruitment before being a combatant”

Download the statement HERE

The current document is endorsed by the following platforms and organizations of the civil society:

Coalition Against the Linkage of Boys, Girls, and Adolescents to the Armed Conflict in Colombia (COALICO), currently conformed by: Center for Development and Psychosocial Consulting Workshop for Life Association; Christian Menonite Association for Justice, Peace, and Action No Violence (Justapaz); Benposta Nation for Youths; Links Corporation; International Defense of Girls and Boys (DNI Colombia); Growing Together Foundation (FCU); and the Jesuits to Colombia Refugees (JRS Colombia).

Campaign for the 30 years of the CDN consisted of: Colective Association of Objectors of Conscience (ACOOC); ASOAFRO Association, Youth Association of Social Arts, Videos and Films; Peasant Association of Antioquia ACA; National Center of Health Association, Environment and Work (CENSAT); Santa Rita Association for Education and Promotion (FUNSAREP); FIAN Association Colombia; Latin América Colombia Environment and Development Association ENDA; International Defense of Girls and Boys (DNI – Colombia); Torches Network Association; Benposta Nation for Youth – Colombia; Little House of Children; The Colinas Communal Cultural Center (CECUCOL); Neighborhoods of The World Collective; Young Friend Corporation; COMBOS Corporation; ORIANA Corporation; Platohedro Corporation), Corporación Vínculos (Links Corporation), Corporación Convivamos (Let’s Live Together Corporation; Center for Psychosocial Attention Association CAPS; Investigation and Training for Transformation Corporation (IFT), Inter Ecclesiastic Commission for Justice and Peace; Coalition Against The Linkage of  Boys, Girls, and Adolescents to The Armed Conflict in Colombia (COALICO), South Workshop Arts School, Peace and Good Foundation; Southeastern and Colombian Massif Foundation (FUNDESUMA); Wrong Way Foundation; Growing Together Foundation; Foundation for the Defense of Mother Earth (FUNMATI); Foundation for The Environment and Peace in Colombia (FUMPAZ); Thinking and Social Action (P.A.S); Colombian Platform of Social and Popular Organizations for the Relevance of Boys, Girls, and Adolescents; Simma Program; Open Workshop – Integral Promotion Center for Women and Family; PRODESAL Workshop; Land of Peace; Unit of Afrocaucan Organizations (UOAFROC).

Alianza por la niñez colombiana (Alliance for Colombian Childhood), consisted of: PANDI Agency; SOS Children Villages; Bethany Global; International Center of Education and Human Development (Cinde), Children International; Infancy and Development Corporation; Game and Childhood Corporation; We Are More Corporation; Action Fund; Attachment Foundation, Antonio Restrepo Barco Foundation; PLAN Foundation; Saldarriaga Concha Foundation; Save The Children Colombia Foundation; Jerez & Sandoval – Media and RS); Infancy Observatory of the National University; Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Psychology Faculty; Network of Infancy Protection RED PAI-Red, PaPaz Network; World Vision. Allies: Ana María Convers, Adela Morales, Pedro Quijano.

Also endorse: Families of Arrested Missing Association (ASFADDES); Collective Action of Objectors of Concience (ACOOC); José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective; Collective of Objectors of Conscience from the Coffee Region; Collective of Objectors of The Mandatory Military Service Conscience Without Camouflage; Unarmed Collectives of Cali; Orlando Fals Borda Socio-legal Collective; Colombian Comission of Jurists (CCJ); Colombia – Europe – United States Coordination (CCEEU); Afrocolombian Pastoral Center Corporation (CEPAC BTURA); Yira Castro Legal Corporation; Oriana Corporation; Regional Corporation for The Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS); Restart Corporation; Sisma Woman Corporation; Santo Tomas Moro Franciscan Foundation; Nydia Erika Foundation; Free and Peaceful Territory Foundation of Circasia; Land of Peace Foundation; Current Humanity Legal Corporation; Latin American Institute for  Alternate Society and Rights (ILSA); The Association for the Development of the Colombian Afro Descendant Population (Asociación ASOAFRO), Foundation for the Environment and Peace in Colombia (FUMPAZ); Women for Peace; Prodesal Workshop – Córdoba; terre des hommes Alemania (tdh Germany); terre des hommes Basilea (tdh Basilea) and terre des hommes Suisse (tdh Suisse).

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