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UNITED NATIONS Press Release

Two UN Human Rights Experts Express Deep Concern Over Killing of Indigenous Leaders in Colombia

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, Hina Jilani, and the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asthma Jahangir, have expressed their deep concern over the murders and disappearance of indigenous leaders in Colombia.

In a communication dated 9 July 2001 to the Government of Colombia, the two experts said that "according to the source, 8 indigenous leaders have been killed since the beginning of the year, which puts in evidence the vulnerability of indigenous groups in Colombia, and in particular of their leaders."

They drew the attention of the Government in particular to the killings of the two following leaders: Alirio Pedro DomicÛ DomicÛ and Alberto Sabugara Velasquez.

Mr. DomicÛ DomicÛ, Governor of the Esmeralda River Indigenous Reserve in Tierralta municipality, Department of Cordoba, was reportedly killed on 25 June 2001 by members of paramilitary groups.

Mr. Sabugara Velasquez, leader of the GengarÛ Indigenous Reserve, Alto BaudÛ,
Department of ChocÛ, was reportedly shot dead on 27 June 2001 in QuibdÛ by gunmen who are believed to be members of paramilitary groups, after having attended an indigenous assembly organized by OREWA (OrganizaciÛn Indigena Embera Waunnan).

In their joint communication, the two experts expressed further concern over the disappearance of Kimy Domico Pernia, leader of the Embera's indigenous group, who was reportedly abducted by paramilitaries on 2 June 2001 in the Department of Cordoba.

The two experts urged the Government of Colombia to take any steps which might be necessary in order to investigate, prosecute and impose appropriate sanctions on any persons guilty of the murders and abduction of the above-mentioned leaders regardless of any rank, office or position they may hold. They further urged the Government to ensure that all possible means are employed for the removal of any conditions or circumstances that undermine the ability of human rights defenders to carry out their work in accordance with the fundamental principles set forth in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

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