Beyond Negotiation

International Humanitarian Law and its Application to the Conduct of the FARC-EP

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Whether they live in Bogotá or in remote rural areas, Colombian civilians bear the brunt of the country's violent armed conflict. Thousands have been killed in recent years, and thousands more have been kidnaped for ransom. Their children, some as young as thirteen or fourteen, have been recruited into the irregular forces - guerrillas and paramilitaries - that play a primary role in the conflict. Fleeing their homes to protect themselves and their families, some two million Colombians have become internally displaced or have left their country as refugees. Human Rights Watch abhors the conflict's heavy civilian toll and supports ongoing efforts to achieve peace. Yet we insist on the protection of civilians even in the absence of peace. The international humanitarian law norms applicable to the conflict were designed to shield civilians from war, and to protect sick and wounded combatants as well as those who have surrendered. In Colombia, to the great discredit of the warring parties, these norms are largely ignored. This report, which is based on first-hand research in Colombia, including a visit in May-June 2000 to the Zone, describes the range of international humanitarian law violations committed by FARC-EP. Both in format and substance, it closely follows a July 2001 letter to Commander Marulanda addressing these issues. 21pp, 3.00

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