The United Nations called on Colombia Tuesday to investigate allegations that “false victims” collected compensation for a 1997 paramilitary massacre.
A U.N. statement released Tuesday condemned the “fraudulent use of systems of human rights protection that may have occurred,” referring to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ordered the Colombian government to pay millions in compensation to 49 massacre victims’ families, based on allegedly false information supplied by false victims’ defense attorneys.
New evidence provided by the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office indicates that the real number of victims in the 1997 massacre committed by a paramilitary death squad may be 10 while victims’ families of 49 were compensated.
“It is the responsibility of the Colombian State to investigate, prosecute and punish reprehensible conduct of the people who might have left out the truth in statements in their statements to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,” the UN said.
The agency demanded that the competent authorities in Colombia “initiate the actions necessary to clarify these facts and punish those responsible.”
According to the UN, the possibility of fraud “does not question the legitimate work of the Inter-American system or the right of victims and their legal representatives to use international mechanism whose competence Colombia has accepted.”
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos called the 2009 ruling a “mockery of the international human rights system.”
The IACHR responded Tuesday that it was the Colombian state that presented the victims of the Mapiripan massacre and that “it is the state’s obligation to properly investigate the human rights violations that have occurred in Colombia.”