Colombian honor guards carry the body of a FARC-executed security force member during a ceremony in Bogota on November 27, 2011.

(Washington, DC) – The killing of four captive members of the Colombian security forces by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) shows the guerrilla group’s blatant disregard for human life and the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said today.

On November 26, 2011, the bodies of four members of the security forces whom the FARC had held in captivity for more than 10 years were found in a FARC camp in Solano, Caquetá following combat between the guerrilla group and the Colombian army, Colombia’s Defense Ministry and Ombudsman’s Office reported. Three of the victims had been shot in the head and the fourth in the back, the reports said. A fifth captive fled the guerrilla camp, survived, and was picked up by army troops.

“The FARC’s murder of captives is a war crime,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Those responsible for this atrocity should be brought to justice.”

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other applicable laws of war prohibit the killing of captives by parties to a conflict. The willful killing of a person in custody is a war crime.

The FARC has a long history of holding captured members of the government security forces in miserable conditions for many years. The FARC has also frequently committed serious violations of the laws of war against civilians, including killings, threats, forced displacement, recruitment of child combatants, and the widespread use of antipersonnel landmines.