21 August 2009: On 5 August 2009 the Colombian Government presented the document CONPES 3590. The document, adopted in June by the National Council for Economic and Social Policy, strengthens and consolidates the process of searching for and identifying of victims of enforced disappearance.
“The International Commission on Missing Persons welcomes CONPES 3590 as an encouraging step forward for Colombia’s victims of enforced disappearance,” said Kathryne Bomberger, Director-General of ICMP. “This much needed document underlines priority activities in the search and identification process and dedicates funding for their implementation. In addition, it will ensure that key institutions such as the Colombian Search Commission and the State Attorney’s Office are strengthened and it supports the enhancement of underlying forensic processes,” she added.
The Colombian Central Register of Disappeared Persons currently contains over 31,000 confirmed cases of disappearances in the country. The government, via the CONPES 3590 document allocates some 55 million USD (111.444 million COP) for a period of 4 years. This significant financial investment in the judicial, forensic and other institutions is expected to support the processing and identification of over 24,500 cases by the end of 2014.
“With this policy we obtain an optimal national response that contributes to guarantee the right of the victims to know the truth, to justice and reparation. Therefore, the reach of the intervention of the CONPES 3590 document is related to the actions of the Colombian State at a short, mid and long term, as they are required to consolidate the mechanisms for the search and identification of the people who disappeared as consequence of the violence the country suffers and they are also required to deliver the mortal remains to their relatives,” said Paola Buendia Garcia, Director of the Justice and Security Unit, National Planning Department.
“The CONPES 3590 document also seeks to support victims’ participation in the search and identification process via the creation and consolidation of a Permanent Working Table of Associations of Family Members of Disappeared Persons,” continued Ms. Bomberger. “This is important given that the participation of victims in the overall process has been a key concern over the last years in the country which, according to the State Attorney’s Office, has an estimated 65% of sub-registration of cases of disappearances,” she added.
ICMP was extensively consulted by National Planning Department in the course of preparation of the CONPES 3590 document. ICMP continues its close coordination with DNP and other relevant Colombian institutions to better define the assistance it can provide in the implementation of the activities foreseen in the CONPES 3590 document.
The International Commission on Missing Persons is an independent organization whose primary role is to ensure the cooperation of governments in locating and identifying those who have disappeared during armed conflict or as a result of human rights violations. ICMP also supports the work of other organizations, encourages public involvement in its activities and contributes to the development of appropriate expressions of commemoration and tribute to the missing. ICMP opened an office in Bogota, Colombia in October 2008.
The full CONPES 3590 document can be found at the following LINK (available in Spanish only).