United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Philip Alston revealed Thursday that 30 corpses bearing torture marks have been found on the border of Colombia and Ecuador.
According to the UN official, the bodies were found over a period of the last “four to six weeks.” The corpses were reportedly found lying by one of the main highways in the Putumayo department in the south of Colombia, which borders Ecuador.
A band of Colombian ex-paramilitaries are believed to be responsible for the massacre. Alston said that the discovery coincided with a “social cleansing” campaign, which the armed groups had announced.
The special rapporteur said that armed groups had distributed leaflets to the local population, warning that prostitutes, drug traffickers, thieves, kidnappers and drug addicts would be executed.The leaflets allegedly asked for forgiveness in advance for any “innocent deaths”.
Alston added that the violence was part of an effort by the paramilitaries to control important trade routes.
Philip Alston is the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitary executions.
The border between Ecuador and Colombia is an important trade route for drug traffickers. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, whose government retains a military presence along the Colombian border,has consistently complained that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s government does not exercise full control of its side of the border.
The border region has been a source of tension between the two nations in the past, after a Colombia mounted a raid on a FARC camp inside Ecuadorean territory in 2008. The incident led Ecuador to break diplomatic relations with Colombia, claiming the Colombian army had undermined Ecuadorean sovereignty.
The two Andean nations began to repair severed ties in 2009. Negotiation have been complicated by allegations published in June 2010 by Ecuadorean news site El Universo that Colombia’s national security agency DAS wiretapped Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.