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Colombia: 15 Hostages Rescued by Security Forces

Human Rights Watch today welcomed reports that 15 hostages that had been held for several years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been rescued. Human Rights Watch called on the FARC to immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of others still being held.

According to press reports, the hostages rescued in an operation by Colombian security forces today include former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who in a recently released video appeared to be in very poor health, three US citizens and 11 other Colombians.

“The FARC had been holding these people hostage for years, in some of the most miserable and inhumane conditions,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s wonderful that these hostages will finally rejoin their families.”

Human Rights Watch added that, in light of reports that there were no civilian casualties, the Colombian security forces should be commended for carrying out an effective mission that respected international humanitarian law.

However, Human Rights Watch expressed concern over the lives and well-being of the hundreds of other hostages that the FARC continues to hold for ransom or political gain.

“The FARC’s continued holding of hostages and systematic kidnappings amount to a crime against humanity that should be universally condemned,” said Vivanco. “They should long ago have released all the hostages, and stopped inflicting so much pain on not only the hostages, but all their loved ones.”

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