Over the last three years the Prosecutor’s Office has receved reports of the forced disappearances of 27,384 people, victims of armed rebel groups.
The latest report from by the Justice and Peace Office was based on complaints filed by relatives of missing persons during a seminar for the victims developed under the Justice and Peace Act.
Caracol Radio reports that during the 382 days of of inspection conducted since October 2006, prosecutors and investigators have heard and documented reports of disappearances which in most cases occurred between 1988 and 2002.
During the investigation, families of the disappeared argued that they had no news of their loved ones, and were furthermore able to identify the alleged perpetrators of the disappearances.
Investigators found that the majority of those missing were farmers, construction workers and the unemployed.
According to Caracol Radio, twenty thousand people, or 75 per cent of complaints regarded those forcibly disappeared by paramilitary groups.
The same report stated that about seven thousand people had been disappeared by guerrillas.There is no accurate data on numbers of disappearances at the hands of the FARC due to a lack of compliance with the government, such as demobilization or the undergoing of a peace process such as the paramilitaries has ostensibly undertaken, which persecutes paramilitary members for crimes against humanity and gives them reduced sentences.
Antioquia is the department with the highest number of reported disappearances, with 7178 cases, followed by Caesar, 2,203 cases; Magdalena with 2,076 disappearances; Meta, with 1,633 cases, and Santander, with 1,539 disappearances.
By municipality, Tibu in Norte de Santander is the town hardest hit by cases of enforced disappearance, with 714 cases, followed by Santa Marta,697; Medellin, 669; San Jose del Guaviare with 409 cases and Barrancabermeja with 520.
Prosecutors from the Justice and Peace Unit began investigations, gathering medical records and dental charts of victims and entered information in the Unique System of Disappeared Information, following information given by family members.
According to the rules of international humanitarian law, enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity and therefore could be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
However, that court could only investigate cases committed in Colombia after November 2002, when Colombia acceded to the Rome Statute.