The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the Colombian state and paramilitaries are culpable for 16,000 forced disappearances in the country over the last three decades, Spanish news agency EFE reported Monday.
Christian Salazar, at a forced disappearance seminar in the Colombian capital of Bogota, stated that the current total figure stands at over 57,000 recorded disappearance cases, with 15,600 of these being forced disappearances.
He clarified that these figures are taken from NGOs and that the Prosecutor General’s Office has seen “probably more than 26,500 cases of alleged forced disappearances.”
These incidents of forced disappearance were mainly “committed by state agents and paramilitary forces who collaborated with them,” while “there are more than 3,000 women and 3,000 people under 20 years old” included in the estimates.
The high figures regarding “one of the most serious human rights violations,” according to the official, make Colombia “one of the countries in South America and the world with the most disappeared.”
He argued that “decades of internal armed conflict and state persecution” has contributed to the high numbers of disappeared persons and “thus prolonged the suffering of their families.”
He added that if every disappeared person’s family consisted of four people, “it is estimated that in Colombia there are over 100,000 victims of enforced disappearance.”
Although Salazar noted that the legal framework for prosecution of these crimes now exists, he concluded that “the fight against impunity has not made similar progress.”