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Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, A/HRC/10/21/Add.3, 16 February 2009: Colombia

The Working Group notes the gap between the Constitution – an instrument recognized worldwide for its democratic nature, in both its genesis and content – the law, and reality. It criticizes the practice of administrative pretrial detention by the National Police; mass  or multiple arrests by the military in rural areas; detentions in the poor areas of the big cities, especially of  beggars, the destitute and members of ethnic and sexual minorities; military round-ups and enlist conscription. The Working Group expresses its concern at the problem of “false positives” whereby the bodies of young persons who have disappeared in the big cities crop up a short time later hundreds of kilometres away, identified as guerrillas killed in combat. It criticizes the absence of criminal enforcement judges in prisons,  prison overcrowding, especially in the La Picota, Villa Hermosa and Palmira prisons,  and  the practice of citizen’s arrests.

56. The National Police is continuing its practice of carrying out round-ups or raids in big cities, justifying the practice as a preventive measure. Communities of sexual minorities complained of being detained frequently because of their appearance or clothes. Beggars, the destitute, vagrants, people who look suspicious, and even street vendors, whose goods are confiscated, are also detained.

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