Title Panama/Colombia: Refugees: the right to escape from death
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 June 1997
Country Colombia | Panama
Topics Armed groups / Militias / Paramilitary forces / Resistance movements | Deportation / Forcible return | Refoulement | Refugees
Citation / Document Symbol AMR 44/006/1997
Reference Amnesty International is a worldwide voluntary movement that works to prevent some of the gravest violations by governments of people's fundamental human rights. The main focus of its campaigning is to: free all prisoners of conscience people detained an
Cite as Amnesty International, Panama/Colombia: Refugees: the right to escape from death, 1 June 1997, AMR 44/006/1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a99a8.html [accessed 25 December 2014]
Comments Since November 1996, hundreds of people from the northern Urabá area of the Colombian department of Chocó and the south-west of the Urabá region of the department of Antioquia have been forced to flee their homes in the wake of extrajudicial executions, 'disappearances' and other serious human rights violations committed by paramilitary groups operating in unison with the Colombian security forces and serious abuses of international humanitarian law committed by guerrilla forces operating in the region. Many of those forced to flee their homes have added to the almost one million internally displaced people within Colombia. In recent months, several hundred people have escaped to Panama. Amnesty International is dismayed that the Panamanian authorities have failed to abide by their international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees to guarantee a safe haven to hundreds of refugees fleeing Colombia. Instead, the Panamanian authorities in collaboration with the Colombian authorities have forcibly repatriated several hundred refugees. It is of serious concern to Amnesty International that the Panamanian authorities should have acted in such a manner particularly in view of the fact that the conditions which led to the flight of the refugees still exist. Paramilitary groups operating in the Urabá region of Chocó with the support of the Colombian security forces continue to target the civilian population. Fear for those who have been forced to flee their homes is heightened by the fact that the Colombian security forces and their paramilitary allies label displaced people as subversives. As a result displaced people have frequently been the target of human rights violations. Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of the forcibly repatriated refugees and is concerned that the Panamanian Government guarantee protection to other Colombian refugees seeking refuge in Panama. At the time of writing this report, Colombian peasants continue to flee across the border into Panama.
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