The following letter was sent by NLG President Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan to Colombian President Juan Miguel Santos following a paramilitary attack on the Peace Comunity of San Jose de Apartado on December 29, 2017. The attack came following repeated complaints to the police and Colombian army in the area about threats to the Peace Community from paramilitary groups which were routinely dismissed.
President Juan Manuel Santos
Presidencia de la Republica de Colombia
Casa de Nariño
Carrera 8a, No. 7-28,
Santafe de Bogotá
31 December 2017
RE: STATEMENT OF NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD ON THE PROBLEM OF IMPUNITY FOR PARAMILITARIES: Incident on 29.XII.2017 at the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, San Josecito, Urabá, Colombia
Dear President Santos:
The National Lawyers Guild is committed to assisting, as acompañantes and as part of the international legal community, in the achievement of the Peace Accords between the Government of Colombia and the FARC. Our organization works for human rights in the US and internationally and we have made delegations to Colombia to understand and monitor the progress of the Peace Accords. We are deeply concerned about the latest incident on 29 December 2017, in which paramilitaries attempted to kill the legal representative, German Graciano Posso, of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado. Given that the Peace Community members captured the person who attempted murder as well as one of his four accessories, and that the incident was preceded for weeks by threats to murder, it is time to come clean about the paramilitary problem. Impunity for paramilitaries will destroy the Accords and set Colombia back yet again, preventing its people from peace and dignity.
We call on your government, President Santos, and on the Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas to 1) recognize and publicize the threats posed by paramilitaries to the achievement of the Peace Accords and the importance of addressing their impunity for crimes; 2) move quickly to dismantle the illegal paramilitary forces; 3) investigate and prosecute to the full extent of the law the violence and threats of violence from the paramilitaries, and 4) specifically investigate collusion between governmental officials and paramilitaries with reference to this December 29 incident, including the refusal of Col. Antonio Dragond, Comandante, Brigada 17, Carepa, Antioquia, to acknowledge the paramilitaries operating in the area of the Peace Community and for his failure to protect the people of the Peace Community.
Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, President, the National Lawyers Guild
Minister of National Defense Luis Carlos Villegas
Carrera 54, No. 26-25
Colonel Antonio Dregond
Comandante, Brigada 17
Secretary, US Department of State; Members, Foreign Affairs Committee, US Senate & US House of Representatives