European NGOs ask EU to condemn Colombian disappearances

An organization representing more than 30 European NGOs has asked the European Union to call for a “frontal assault” on Colombian forced disappearances, reported newspaper La Vanguardia Thursday.

The International Office for Human Rights-Action on Colombia (OIDHACO) says the EU must demand the Colombian government do something about this abuse, highlighting that in May 2011 the total number of missing people reached 57,200, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. This represents a 40% increase in forced disappearances from 2009.

It has the second-highest incidence of forced disappearance after Argentina and the situation continues to worsen, according to a report released last year by Washington-based NGO Council of Hemispheric Affairs.

OIDHACO spokesman Vincent Vallies said he was deeply worried by “the silence of the EU before this drama which affects thousands of people.” The EU must take a public stand and demand that forced disappearances stop, he said.

The organization, which represents NGOs in 10 different European countries, made the call the day before the first anniversary of the disappearance of 26-year-old environmental activist Sandra Viviana Cuellar in Cali. Vallies said, “Today we have no news of Sandra and we don’t see any actions from the government in terms of finding out her whereabouts.”

OIDHACO believes the government of Juan Manuel Santos has failed to take the necessary actions to finalize the ratification of an international convention against forced disappearances, something which the organization considers “is extremely serious and does not give any indication of a willingness to fight this crime.”

It wants the EU to show a “firmer attitude” and publicly express its concern about Colombian human rights violations and impunity during the next United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

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