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Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Colombia, E/CN.4/2005/10, February 28, 2005


Situation of especially vulnerable groups

Various positive measures in the field of protection and prevention were weakened by public statements by high-level government officials who on occasion questioned the legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders and their organizations. The vulnerability of human rights defenders, including trade unionists, women’s organizations and other social leaders, continued, due to threats and actions by the illegal armed groups, particularly the paramilitaries. The downward trend in the number of newly displaced persons continued.  At the same time, however, the total number of IDPs increased. The indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities continued to be threatened by actions by the illegal armed groups. Other vulnerable groups included women, children, journalists and opinion makers, government employees such as judicial officials, mayors, former mayors and councilmen, along with members of the Unión Patriótica and the Communist Party, and persons suffering discrimination because of their sexual orientation, such as gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.

III. Situation of human rights and international humanitarian law […]

B. Situation of human rights

84. The office in Colombia continued to record allegations of human rights violations attributed to the direct action of public servants, particularly members of the security forces.  Responsibility  is  attributed  to  other  State  institutions,  such  as  the Attorney-General’s Office, for having been associated with those actions or being directly involved in carrying them out. Several of these cases affected vulnerable groups, including human rights defenders, trade unionists, indigenous and Afro- Colombian communities, journalists, persons deprived of their liberty, women, social leaders, and victims of abuses due to their sexual orientation. In some cases, omission on the part of the authorities or complicity with illegal armed groups, particularly paramilitaries, invoked the responsibility of the State.

IV. The situation of especially vulnerable groups

127. Local officials, particularly mayors and former mayors, councillors and former councillors, public officials, judicial officers, members of the Unión Patriótica and the Communist Party, doctors and business people were also particularly vulnerable to actions by illegal armed groups.  Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders were also victims of abuses and discrimination, including mistreatment and acts of “social cleansing”, because of their sexual orientation.

Annex III: Situation of especially vulnerable groups

22. The internal armed conflict reinforced gender discrimination, homophobia and heterosexism. Reports were made of attacks by the illegal armed groups, through physical or psychological abuse or social cleansing, against persons because of their sexual orientation. Such persons were also frequently the victims of abuses and discrimination by the authorities. Allegations were received against members of the National Police in Medellín, Bucaramanga and Santa Marta. The Constitutional Court took action on behalf of the right to equality and other fundamental rights, emphasizing that a person’s sexual orientation constitutes an element that defines their identity and a fundamental component of individual autonomy. Nonetheless, there is a lack of appropriate policies for guaranteeing the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, as well as explicit legislative initiatives to provide criminal and disciplinary sanctions for discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation.

Link to full text of the report: Report-OHCHR-situation Colombia-2005-eng