Colombian NGOs have found nearly 1,000 missing victims of military kidnappings and gang killings in a cemetery in Medellin.
The National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) revealed that they are cooperating with the Search Unit for Missing Persons (UBPD) in a report released on 1st March.
The project first focused on the Universal Cemetery Garden of Medellin in the Colombian department of Antioquia where experts believe at least 906 graves could correspond to victims of forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.
The report revealed that the cemetery is badly organised with missing information of unidentified bodies and exhumations, and it also criticised the ground keeping practices.
UBPD general director Luz Marina Monzon said: “This report presents solid findings on the situation of the unidentified people in Universal Cemetery Garden.
“It is obvious that they have been treated as if they did not have any links to families.”
They also evidenced gaps in burial licenses and inconsistencies in information on areas, data and figures, revealing the need for clear protocols to be set up.
Monzon said that it is the “rights of the people, both of the victims considered missing and their right to be found and identified, as well as their relatives to have the body of their loved one, and finally to society itself, within the framework of the need of its citizens, so that the truth of what happened is known.”
The report comes 11 days after the Colombian Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) said 6,402 ‘false positive’ killings were registered in the country between 2002 and 2008 where people were murdered by the army and then alleged to have been guerrillas in order to gain promotion for the killers.
This figure is reportedly 4,154 more than those registered by the Attorney General’s Office in 2018.
The ‘false positives’ scandal was a series of murders in Colombia as part of the armed conflict between the government and guerrilla forces of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and National Liberation Army (ELN).
Military officials had poor or mentally impaired residents taken to remote areas with offers of work before killing them and presenting them as guerrilla fighters killed in battle in an effort to inflate body counts and receive promotions and other benefits.
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