UN: FARC attacks may constitute war crimes

Christian Salazar, the representative for the Colombian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), urged illegal armed groups to respect human rights and said that recent attacks committed by guerrillas may constitute war crimes.

In a press release Monday Salazar expressed concern over “possible point blank executions of policemen, the incineration of the injured and the use of arms prohibited international law.”

In reference to a recent FARC attack in Putumayo and another in Caqueta against members of the Colombian armed forces, Salazar said that the UN “has begun a close study of these cases which, if confirmed, could constitute war crimes.”

Allegations have been made that guerrillas shot and burned alive some of the fourteen police officers in the Caqueta attack, after their patrol vehicle went over a land mine, and stuffed the body of dead policeman with explosives and planted land mines before withdrawing in the Putumayo attack.

Salazar said that if national forensics agency Medicina Legal confirms these allegations through autopsies, then these crimes would seriously violate the principles combat, which prohibit the intentional infliction of superfluous or unneccesary suffering.

The UNHCHR called for Colombian rebels to subscribe to the obligatory humanitarian norms of combat, or they would be guilty of inalienable crimes without amnesty or pardon.

According to Salazar, 56 members of the Colombian armed forces and several guerrillas were killed in the month of September alone, while a further 52 have been injured. Colombia has seen a spate of guerrilla attacks since Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos took office on August 7, amid FARC peace overtures, after eight years of rebel losses under former President Alvaro Uribe’s hardline anti-insurgent policies.

Following the spate of attacks, the Santos administration categorically ruled out peace talks with Colombian rebel groups.

The UNHCHR called for illegal armed groups to release all hostages immediately, free all child recruits and stop the practice of making and planting land mines.

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