The Colombian government has announced a new policy to determine the exact number of hostages being held by illegal armed groups and guerrillas in the country.
The director of the Presidential Program on Human Rights, Alma Viviana Perez, said a joint group of government and human rights agencies were working together on the strategy, according to a Radio Caracol report.
“We are getting back to drawing attention to the issue of abducted civilians, working with their families and re-articulating the integral attention that the state should be giving families to bring those people home,” she said.
Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, released what are believed to have been its last ten political hostages earlier this month, and publicly pledged to end the practice of kidnapping in March. It is still holding an unknown number of civilian hostages, estimated to be in the hundreds.
Perez called on all armed groups holding hostages to release them immediately.
The Prosecutor General’s office, the Human Rights Ombudsman, the National Search Commission for Missing Persons, the Ministry of Defense and the Free Country Foundation are collaborating to increase attention to kidnapping victims, a government statement said.
Perez’s announcement follows a meeting between the collaborating groups and families of abducted civilians on April 20.
At the meeting, Perez told the families that they have a right to expect the state to search for kidnap victims, and that the government will do everything in its power to find them, according to the statement.