Colombian landmine victims demand investigation into rebel groups | Military
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Victims of landmine blasts rallied outside the Colombian Peace Court on Monday to demand an investigation into rebel groups who planted the explosives across the country, injuring thousands of civilians and soldiers.
The small group of victims was led by Congressman Jose Jaime Uscategui, who said the special peace tribunal was not doing enough to investigate crimes committed by rebel groups against civilians and military personnel.
“We must hold individuals accountable for these types of attacks,” Uscategui said. “Victims have the right to see the faces of those responsible, and there must be some kind of punishment.”
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace was created in 2016 as part of a peace treaty between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. One of its tasks is to investigate war crimes and develop reparation plans for victims.
The Colombian government claims that more than 12,000 landmine victims have been recorded. Mines are still used in remote areas by resistance fighters from the FARC and other rebel groups fighting for drug trafficking routes and other resources abandoned by the FARC following the peace accord.
“History is repeating itself because of the cloak of impunity enjoyed by those who use landmines,” said Nelson Moreno, a former soldier who attended the protest.
Moreno stepped on a mine while on patrol in 2011 in Meta province. The blast destroyed several bones in his right foot and he now has to walk on crutches.
The Red Cross says that in the first three months of this year, 218 people were injured by landmines and other explosives in Colombia, including 150 civilians. This is a 25% increase over the same period last year.
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