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Human Right Group Issues Open Letter to Colombian President Manuel Santos on Recent Statements Regarding 1997 Mapiripán Massacre

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Santos Accuses Human Rights Lawyers in an Inter-American Court Case of Fraud


November 17, 2011, New York – Yesterday, The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued an open letter to Colombian President Manuel Santos condemning recent statements by the Colombian government intended to delegitimize an international legal case concerning the 1997 massacre in Mapiripán, Colombia. During the massacre, the government and paramilitary groups tortured, mutilated, dismembered, and threw civilians into the Guaviare River. A woman who had been previously recognized as a victim of the massacre recently testified in a separate hearing that the disappearance of her two sons and husband did not occur during the massacre. Despite the fact that it was the Colombian government that had provided the evidence now in question, President Santos took the opportunity to call into question the credibility of those seeking accountability for the massacre and accuse them of fraud.
In the letter, CCR urges President Santos to abstain from issuing statements that delegitimize the work of human rights defenders, including lawyers from the Colombia-based José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective, an organization already targeted because of its human rights activism. The Mapiripán massacre is undisputed and the Colombian government has acknowledged its role in the many atrocities committed by paramilitary forces.  CCR concludes the letter by asking President Santos to recognize his administration’s obligation to investigate human rights violations, assume full responsibility for the identification of all victims of the crimes committed in Mapiripán, and publicly support the important role of the Inter-American Human Rights System.
The letter is available in English and Spanish below.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.