Press Release

IACHR Laments Landmine Death of Indigenous Child in Colombia

February 10, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) laments the death of an Awá indigenous child in Colombia, and the injuries suffered by several other members of the Awá indigenous people, as a result of explosions of antipersonnel landmines that had allegedly been planted in their territory by illegal armed groups.

According to the information the Commission has received, on January 31, 2011, on the Hojal La Turbia indigenous reserve, in the department of Nariño, a 14-year-old indigenous boy, José Richard Rodríguez, became the victim of an antipersonnel landmine that killed him and injured his father, 51-year-old Wilfrido Rodríguez. A few days later, on February 7, 2011, another landmine exploded on the same indigenous reserve, seriously injuring Rosa Aurelina Guanga, 30, and inflicting splinter injuries on Fabio Guanga, 22, and María Fernanda Canticus Pascal, 16.

The IACHR condemns the planting of antipersonnel landmines due to the indiscriminate effects of such mines, their deadly potential, and the serious, permanent consequences of the injuries suffered by the survivors of these explosive devices, which are an assault on the rights to life, physical integrity, and health. The presence of antipersonnel mines restricts the free movement of the members of indigenous peoples across their ancestral lands, creating situations of population confinement and food insecurity, and disrupting cultural patterns of subsistence. In addition, the fact that indigenous children and adults fall victim to antipersonnel landmines is a cause of forced internal displacement of families and communities.

The IACHR urges the State of Colombia to adopt any necessary measures to provide health and rehabilitation services to the children and adults of the Awá indigenous people who have been victims of antipersonnel landmines. The IACHR also reiterates its concern over the situation of insecurity of the indigenous peoples who live in the areas affected by the armed conflict, and asks the State to adopt any measures necessary to protect them.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence. 

No. 8/11