Colombia has one of the highest number of forcibly disappeared people in the world, with 50,000 individuals missing, the Ombudsman’s National Search Commission coordinator Andres Peña told EFE on Wednesday.
Most of the disappeared are victims of “illegal groups, paramilitaries mainly and guerrillas, and an important part correspond to agents of the state,” says Peña.
Colombia’s Congress on Tuesday ratified the United Nations’ International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted in 2006.
Peña said that Colombia’s situation is particularly difficult because most countries are in a post-conflict situation when they begin to investigate cases of disappearances, whereas Colombia is still facing conflict.
The prosecutor general has registered some 27,000 people as missing, but admits there are still many cases that need to be investigated.
Peña stated that Colombia “is just on the first step of a large mountain” and stresses the importance of psychosocial help for the families of victims.
“In five years minimum we will see the results,” says Peña. He expects the world will be shocked when full information on the extent of forced disappearances becomes known.
Cristian Salazar, director of the Colombia’s office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in September encouraged Colombia to ratify the pact, saying that it would mean that families whose loved ones disappeared were able to report the failure of Colombian justice to solve these cases.