Venezuelan security forces are accomplices of the Eln, denounces HRW

HRW tried to obtain the version of the Venezuelan Government, but it did not want to attend to their requests.

© Federico Parra / AFP
HRW tried to obtain the version of the Venezuelan Government, but it did not want to attend to their requests.

The NGO will present an official report this Monday.

In a new report to be released tomorrow, the US organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) formally accuses the security forces in Venezuela of being direct accomplices of the ELN in the numerous abuses against the civilian population that are being committed in the border area between the two countries.

(What’s more: US Submits Resolution to Honor 200 Years of Relations with Colombia).

According to the organization, “multiple witnesses, displaced persons and humanitarian officials” confirmed the alliance of members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) with the guerrilla group and their participation in crimes, which include murders and forced disappearances.

The Colombian authorities must urgently redouble their efforts to protect the population (…)

The complaint is part of an investigation carried out by this NGO and which included a visit to the departments of Vichada and Arauca, in February of this year, and interviews with more than 100 people, including displaced persons, community and indigenous leaders, judicial officials, Colombian local authorities and representatives of humanitarian and human rights organizations.

The heart of the report is the violence that has been taking place in the framework of the clashes between the ‘Joint Command of the East’ – a coalition of dissident groups that emerged after the demobilization of the FARC – and the Eln, who dispute the control of the territory and the illicit activities in the department of Arauca and the Venezuelan state of Apure.

(You may be interested: HRW warns of ‘alarming setback’ of freedoms in Latin America).

According to the NGO, clashes between armed groups on the border have caused “a dramatic increase in violence” in the first months of 2022, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

“Guerrillas from both sides, who had previously operated as allies, have committed multiple abuses, including assassinations, forced recruitment, including of children, and forced displacement. Members of the Venezuelan security forces, who have been implicated in human rights violations that have given rise to international investigations into alleged crimes against humanity, have carried out joint operations with members of the Eln and have been complicit in their abuses,” they say. the report.

According to Tamara Taraciuk Broner, acting director for the Americas at HRW, despite some measures, “The response of the Colombian authorities has been inadequate and insufficient. The Colombian authorities must urgently redouble their efforts to protect the population and assist displaced persons, and the UN Fact-Finding Mission must investigate the responsibility of the Venezuelan security forces in the guerrilla abuses.”

In most cases, says the NGO, the armed groups accused the victims of being accomplices of other armed groups as a justification for assassinating or disappearing them.

He cites the case, for example, of two inhabitants of El Ripial, in Venezuela, whom the ELN and members of the FANB accused of being collaborators with the ‘Joint Command of the East’, this January 2.

“The FANB soldier accused both of being ‘informants of the ‘Joint Command of the East’. Salcedo (name changed to protect his identity) denied it and members of the ELN threatened him with death. Salcedo said that when the guerrillas left, he saw through a crack in his door how two ELN members pushed Murillo (the other defendant), who was tied hand and foot, to the ground in Salcedo’s backyard. Another witness confirmed these facts to HRW. Salcedo said that a member of the Eln shot Murillo twice and the guerrillas dragged his body into a truck.”

Another witness said that members of the FANB came to their community in Apure with ELN guerrillas, who took by force several people whom they accused of collaborating with the dissidents. “The military arrived together with the ELN, I thought ‘they are going to kill us all’. The soldiers and members of the ELN began to shout some names, they entered the houses of these people and took them tied up,” said this witness.

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According to a third party, one morning 10 armed men on motorcycles and trucks arrived in his town, identifying themselves as members of the ELN and the Venezuelan military force. “I saw their FANB insignia on their uniforms,” ​​said this witness.

According to HRW, the Colombian National Police recently confirmed the death of 103 people in Arauca between January and February of this year, the highest number of murders since at least 2010. Although some of them were members of these groups Many were civilians.

The soldiers and members of the ELN began to shout some names, entered the houses of these people and took them away tied up.

Since the fighting began at the beginning of the year, at least 3,860 people have been internally displaced in Arauca and more than 3,300 people have fled Venezuela to the Colombian departments of Arauca and Vichada.

The report also notes numerous cases of forced recruitment on both sides of the border, including that of minors, and criticizes the Government for its inconsistency and lack of resources to stop the violence and address the humanitarian crisis.

The NGO clarifies that although it tried to obtain the version of the Venezuelan Government, it did not want to attend to its requests. HRW also presents a series of recommendations, both for the Colombian Government and the Prosecutor’s Office and for the international community.

The UN Investigative Mission is asked to include these complaints about the complicity of the security forces with the ELN as part of the investigation it is carrying out on serious human rights violations committed in Venezuela since 2014.

To the government of the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, he suggests carrying out a comprehensive diagnosis of the needs of all the people forced to flee from Apure who are in Arauca and Vichada, as well as internally displaced persons, adopting and implementing a comprehensive plan of humanitarian response to ensure that Venezuelans arriving in Arauca and Vichada have access to basic humanitarian assistance, and to ensure that the security forces in Arauca and Vichada prioritize the protection of the population, particularly the displaced and indigenous and community leaders.

(Also read: Venezuelan teachers, the worst paid on the continent).

Likewise, guarantee that minors are protected against their recruitment and use by armed groups in the conflict, and ensure that the National Protection Unit, government agency in charge of protecting people at risk, strengthen the protection schemes for human rights defenders, community leaders, indigenous communities and former FARC combatants in Arauca and Vichada, taking into account the increase in violence in the region , among other things.

In the case of the Prosecutor’s Office, they are asking it to give priority to investigations into abuses committed by armed groups in Arauca, increase the number of prosecutors and investigators in the area, and increase its technical capacity to investigate these crimes.


Correspondent of THE TIME


En Twitter: @ sergom68

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