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Colombia: Human Rights

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the number of bodies in the mass grave recently discovered in La Macarena, Colombia. (324176)

The mass graves in La Macarena were first brought to the attention of our embassy in Bogota in November 2009.

Our ambassador asked the Colombian Government, namely Carlos Franco, Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme in Colombia, for information on the alleged mass graves. We received a reply on 16 February 2010, which I shared with Carolina Hoyos, a human rights activist whom I met on 16 March. According to Mr. Franco there are 650 corpses properly identified in their graves buried during the last 20 years. There are approximately 350 corpses not identified during the same 20 years. The burial of non-identified people at La Macarena's cemetery has been properly registered in the control books kept by the municipal authorities and the officers in charge of the cemetery's administration. We will continue to monitor developments in the investigation into these mass graves.

I was dismayed to learn of the killing of Mr. Hurtado in the La Macarena region, who was President of the Human Rights committee of La Catalina. Our ambassador in Bogota raised Mr. Hurtado's assassination with the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme and the Head of the International Relations Unit at the Colombian Prosecutor's Office.