ICMP condemns rise in cases of missing and forcibly disappeared persons in Colombia

A message from families in eastern Colombia during a preparatory event for the act of acknowledgement of women and families searching for missing persons, held in August 2019 in Villavicencio. Photo: ICMP “Not one man, not one woman, not one step towards war, let impunity die. No more...”

29 September 2020, The Hague, the Netherlands: The International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) joins other international organizations and Colombian institutions, including the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons, in condemning the rise in cases of missing and disappeared persons, as well as the increase in attacks against civil society organizations working on the issue of missing persons in Colombia.

According to figures cited by the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons, more than 450 new cases of missing and disappeared persons have occurred since the signing of the 2016 Peace Agreement. The United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia had as of 26 June 2020 verified 15 disappearances of demobilized FARC-EP members that occurred after the peace agreement. The mission has also reported that ex-combatants and their families are being attacked across the country. In addition, the civil society organization Indepaz has recorded more than 250 violent deaths in 2020, with Nariño, Cauca, Antioquia, Arauca and Norte de Santander departments being particularly impacted.

ICMP is also deeply concerned about threats and attacks reported this year against 13 family associations and civil society organizations that partner with ICMP, including the FARC’s National Commission for the Search of Missing Persons. The deteriorating security situation has forced several organizations, a majority of which comprise mostly women, to move to other parts of Colombia. This has severely impactedtheir livelihoods and weakened the processes for accounting for the missing. The deteriorating security situation hinders families and civil society in exercising their rights to peacefully support efforts to account for missing persons.

As an international partner to the Peace Agreement, ICMP calls on the relevant Colombian authorities to fulfil their obligations to prevent the crime of enforced or any other form of disappearance, to investigate missing persons cases, and to protect civil society groups and families of the missing from harassment.

ICMP stands in solidarity with the victims of the ongoing violence, and reiterates its support to the realization of the commitments in the Peace Agreement. ICMP supports the efforts of the Colombian authorities, including the Unit for the Search of Missing Persons and the other institutions that are part of the Integral System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Repetition, to enable families of the missing to access their rights.

About ICMP

ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons.