Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report Wednesday criticising the Colombian government’s response to the rise of new violent groups which have taken the place of demobilized paramilitaries.
The report, titled “Paramilitaries’ heirs: The new face of violence in Colombia,” examines the growth of new gangs in Colombia, which have replaced disbanded paramilitary coalition the AUC.
The report details horrific human rights violations committed by the gangs, including massacres, rape and forced displacement.
HRW criticises Uribe’s government, which it says has “failed to treat the rise of the successor groups with the seriousness the problem requires.”
The report’s findings cast doubt on the success of the Uribe administration’s program of demobilizing paramilitaries, stating that for many civilians “the AUC’s demobilization has done little to change the conditions of fear and violence in which they live.”
The groups are thought to have over 4,000 members, and to be present in 24 of Colombia’s departments.
The report argues that the government should root out corrupt officials who cooperate with the new groups, go after the neo-paramilitaries’ assets and support networks, and “make a sustained and meaningful effort to protect civilians,” which is currently lacking.
“Whatever you call these groups – whether paramilitaries, gangs, or some other name – their impact on human rights in Colombia today should not be minimized,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director. “Like the paramilitaries, these successor groups are committing horrific atrocities, and they need to be stopped.”
The groups named in the report include the Rastrojos, the Paisas, the Machos, and the Black Eagles.
For the full report, click here.