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  • Reporte anual Annual Report 2004-2005

  • EQUITAS es una corporacin cientfica, sin nimo de lucro, cuya misin es la bsqueda de personas desaparecidas como consecuencia del conflicto armado interno en Colombia. EQUITAS apoya a las familias en su derecho de conocer la suerte de sus seres queridos y recuperar sus restos, para que puedan realizar los ritos funerarios y el duelo de sus muertos segn su cultura o

    religin, adems, de adelantar procesos judiciales.

    EQUITAS is a non-profit, scientific organization,

    whose mission is to help Colombian families search for

    individuals disappeared as a result of internal armed

    conflict. EQUITAS supports families in their right to

    know the fate of loved ones and recover their remains so

    that they may mourn their dead according to tradition

    and carry out appropriate judicial procedures.

  • Equitas Reporte anual 2004-20054

  • Equitas Annual Report 2004-2005 5

    El trabajo forense y psicosocial de Equitas

    Equitas forensic and psychosocial work

  • Equitas Reporte anual 2004-20056

    Durante este ltimo ao, equitas ha cumplido su misin de ofrecer servicios forenses y psicosociales gratuitos a los fami-liares de las vctimas de personas desaparecidas en Colom-bia. equitas ha realizado labores relacionadas con el hallaz-go, recuperacin, anlisis e identificacin de restos humanos, efectos personales y materiales asociados. equitas utiliza tcnicas cientficas y forenses reconocidas internacionalmente por las Naciones Unidas1, y recomen-daciones de entidades como el Comit Internacional de la Cruz Roja (circ2). equitas tambin considera el apoyo psicosocial como parte esencial de su tra-bajo forense y le da prioridad a la integracin de las familias y comunidades en la bsqueda y recuperacin de los restos de personas desaparecidas, fomentando una participacin activa y control de este proceso3. Esto constituye un paso im-portante para el bienestar personal de las familias y para el xito de la investiga-cin forense4.

    equitas trabaja principlamente con las familias, sus representantes legales y/o asesores jurdicos de organizaciones no gubernamentales. Los casos estn ubicados en varias zonas de Colombia, e incluyen desapariciones individua-les y desapariciones colectivas ubicadas en entierros clandestinos, cementerios y fosas comunes. En todos los casos en que equitas ha colaborado durante el periodo 2004-2005, ha sido necesario recoger informacin antes de comen-zar una investigacin forense en campo. Esto incluye informacin de contexto

    During this past year, equitas has completed its mission to offer pro-bono forensic and psychosocial services to the relatives of individuals disappeared in Colombia. equitas has carried out activities related to the search, recovery, analysis, and identification of human remains, personal effects, and associated materials. equitas uses forensic and scientific tech-niques internationally recognized by the United Nations1 and recommend-ed by the International Committee for the Red Cross2. equitas also con-siders psychosocial support to be key component of its forensic work, and prioritizes integrating families and communities in the search and recov-ery of the remains of the missing and encouraging active participation and control of the process3. This is an essential part of the personal well-being of families and the success of the forensic investigation4.

    Equitas works primarily with families, their legal representatives, and/or judicial advisors from non-governmental organizations. Cases are locat-ed in various parts of Colombia, and include individual and multiple dis-appearances found in cemeteries, clandestine burials, and mass graves. In all cases where equitas has collaborated during the period 2004-2005, it has been necessary to collect data prior to initiating a forensic investigation in the field. This includes background information about the events, ante-

  • mortem5 data about the missing individuals, and geographical information leading to the location of graves. It has been necessary in several cases to do a thorough analysis of the information available in legal proceedings and documentation.

    Colombian law allows for independent judicial investigation since Jan-uary 1, 20056. The first complete field and laboratory work was carried by equitas in February 2005. equitas staff also served as professional ob-servers during exhumations carried out by Colombian authorities, and ad-vised non-governmental organizations in forensic procedures. equitas is prepared to also serve as expert witnesses in Colombias new judicial system.

    In all steps of its investigations, equitas has been accompanied by the families of disappeared persons. For equitas, the most important aspect of the investigation of a missing person is returning the mortal remains of a loved one to family members. The absence of knowledge about the fate of a loved one generates a state of ambiguity and pain, which can linger many years after the event7. equitas has met with family members, introducing staff members and explaining the forensic investigation process. This one-on-one connection with relatives has allowed equitas to establish a basis for trust, the first step in the psychosocial process of recovery8.

    Equitas Annual Report 2004-2005 7

    sobre los hechos, datos ante-mortem5 necesarios de las vctimas e informacin geogrfica que permita ubicar las fosas. Tambin fue necesario, en varios casos, hacer un anlisis exhaustivo de la informacin disponible en los expedientes y la documentacin.

    La ley colombiana permite la investigacin judicial independiente a partir del 1 de enero de 20056. El primer trabajo de campo y laboratorio completo realizado por equitas se llev a cabo en febrero de 2005. El personal de equi-tas tambin ha servido como observador profesional durante exhumaciones rea-lizadas por autoridades colombianas y ha asesorado a organizaciones no guber-namentales en procedimientos forenses. Adems, equitas est preparado para servir como perito independiente bajo el nuevo sistema judicial colombiano.

    En todos los pasos de sus investigaciones, equitas ha acompaado a los familiares de las personas desaparecidas. Para equitas, el aspecto ms impor-tante en la investigacin de una persona desaparecida es devolver a los familia-res los restos mortales de su ser querido, pues la falta de informacin sobre la suerte de un ser querido genera un estado de ambiguedad y dolor, que puede prolongarse muchos aos despus de los hechos7. equitas se ha reunido con los familiares, presentando a su personal y explicando el proceso de investi-gacin forense. Esta conexin con los familiares, uno a uno, ha permitido a equitas establecer las bases de la confianza con ellos, el primer paso para un proceso psicosocial de recuperacin8.

  • Equitas Reporte anual 2004-20058

  • Equitas Annual Report 2004-2005 9

    II. El conflicto interno armado y las desapariciones en Colombia

    II. Internal armed conflict and disappearances in Colombia

  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict (Protocol i), states that families have the right to know the fate of their missing relatives (Article 32). All parties in conflict have the obligation of facilitating the search and return of the remains of persons missing to their families. (Article 34).

    Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Pro-tocol ii), states that the search for the dead must be a priority in order to avoid having the remains despoiled and provide them with a dignified des-tination (Art. 8).

    Equitas Reporte anual 2004-200510

    El Protocolo Adicional a los Convenios de Ginebra de 1949 relativo a la Proteccin de las Vctimas de Conflictos Arma-dos Internacionales (Protocolo i), establece que las familias tienen el derecho de conocer la suerte de sus parientes des-aparecidos (Art. 32). Las partes en conflicto tienen la obli-gacin de buscar o facilitar la bsqueda de los restos de las personas des-aparecidas (Art. 34).

    El Protocolo Adicional a los Convenios de Ginebra de 1949 para la Proteccin de las Vctimas de los Conflictos Armados sin Carcter Inter-nacional (Protocolo ii), establece que la bsqueda de los muertos sea prio-ritaria para impedir que stos sean despojados y los restos mortales tengan un destino digno (Art. 8).

  • The case of forced disappearances is equally alarming. The icrc received 279 new cases last year, in addition to more than 2.000 disappearances documented since 1994 in relation to the armed conflict. This figure, according to the icrc, includes only those cases that have come to its attention, and does not claim to be exhaustive, though it clearly illustrates a trend. []

    The icrc considers that disappeareance persists as a method of intimidating the civilian population in Colombia, adding that this specific issue should be accorded priority in the context of the negotia-tions between the State and the organized armed groups. []

    The statistics in Colombia indicate that just as the guerrillas are responsible for most of the kid-nappings, the paramilitary groups have made forced

    disappearances a regular practice. Some statistics at-tribute forced disappearances to state agents as well. []

    The International Committee of the Red Cross presents this report, which includes other statistics, in the understanding that an internal armed con-flict persists in Colombia, as published yesterday in El Tiempo. The editorial on the document released yes-terday argues this, and asserts that this legal frame-work provides additional tools for demanding respect for international humani