War Resisters' International is worried about recent developments in the cases of two young Colombian men, Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié (COL14911) and Frank Yair Estrada Marin (COL14922). Both have been recruited illegally are forced to perform their military service against their will, and the
Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié, who was recruited by force on 4 August 2006 (see co-alert from 24 November 2006), is now in his 11th month of forced military service, and has 7 more month to go. While the initial abuse stopped, he is now part of a military unit that can be sent to combat zones on short notice. In fact, War Resisters' International received information on 16 July that Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié has now been sent to Puerto Cayumba, which is in a so-called "hot" zone, where the military frequently encounters guerrillas. Only in June, the V Brigade issued a press release about an encounter with "terrorists" and "criminal groups" in the area.
Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié explains the
way he was recruited: "I was conscripted by the military of Casabe on 4 August by soldier
Anderson Andrés Anturi Ruíz. That day in the morning hours I was heading to the town workshop, to find a motorbike that I had in repair to head back to the path La Soledad where I live. I was in the town because I was buying some tools for doing my agricultural work. At that moment I was detained by the army and they took me against my will to the military. They said that I had to serve my military service. I explained to them that I could not serve because my family depends economically on me, that my father is incapable of working, that my brother suffers from epilepsy. And also that I have never agreed with the armed actors, I am against arms, and to have to kill someone else. They told me that those were no reasons for not serving and from that moment I was already a soldier."
Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié was forced to
sign three documents without being given the chance to read them. One of the documents was a
paper stating that he joined the military voluntarily. However, as this paper was signed under pressure, the signature has to be considered invalid.
Frank Yair Estrada Marin (COL14922) has been illegally recruited on 5 May 2007, and is presently part of the Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio in Medellin. After more than two months in the military, he is presently being forced to take part in basic military training in the area of Cuiva, in the municipality of Yarumal (Antioquia). The conditions there are lamentable, as during these summer times the weather is very hot, and water is scare. As a result, Frank Yair Estrada Marin suffers from fever and dehydration.
Nevertheless, his conviction that he does not want to be part of any war remains firm.
Frank Yair Estrada Marin was taken by soldiers from the Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio to the batallon on the morning of 5 May 2007, under the pretext that they needed to perform a medical examination to verify his ability to perform military service. However, because Frank Yair Estrada Marin did not have a military card (libreta militar), he was immediately recruited, under protest of Frank Yair Estrada Marin, who declared that he did not agree with any of the armed groups in Colombia, because he is a conscientious objector.
Three important legal aspects are to be
considered in both cases:
1. The way of recruitment. Recruitment is regulated in Colombian law 48 of 1993. While this law requires to "clarify ones military situation when someone reaches the age of 18" (Art 14). However, failure to do so can only be punished with a fine (Art 41 and 42). The law does not specify that in such cases the normal recruitment procedure, as outlined in Articles 14-21 of the law, does no longer apply. The recruitment of Carlos Andrés
Giraldo Hincapié amd Frank Yair Estrada Marin is therefore illegal
even under Colombian law.
In addition, the forced recruitment of Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié and Frank Yair Estrada Marin is a violation of the "right to personal liberty (Article 7), the protection of human dignity (Article 11) and the right to freedom of movement (Article 22), guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights, in connection with Article 1.1 of that same legal instrument", according to a decision of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a very similar case from Guatemala (CASE 10.975, 6 October 1993).
2. Possible reasons for exemption from
military service. Article 28 of law 48/1993 defines the reasons for exemption from military service. Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié father is handicapped (he lost one arm), his brother is epileptic, and his mother is older than 60 years - which would qualify him for exemption under Art 28 of law 48/1993. Frank Yair Estrada Marin has medical problems with his spine.
Due to the illegal recruitment process, both did not have a chance to claim any exemption on medical or other grounds.
3. The right to conscientious objection. Colombia is signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The right to conscientious objection is recognised by the United Nations Human Rights Committee as a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, as guaranteed by Article 18 ICCPR. In fact, in a recent decision on two cases of conscientious objectors from South Korea, the Human Rights Committee stated that not to provide for the right to conscientious objection is a violation of Article 18 ICCPR (see CCPR/C/88/D/1321-1322/2004 from 23 January 2007).
War Resisters' International considers the
forced recruitment of Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié and Frank Yair Estrada Marin as arbitrary detention. It constitutes a violation of Colombian law 48/1993, of articles 7, 11, and 22 of the
American Convention on Human Rights, and of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
War Resisters' International calls for
letters of support to Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié and Frank Yair Estrada Marin:
Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié, Base
Militar de Casabe, adscrita al Batallón Plan Energético y Vial
Nº 7 de Barrancabermeja, Colombia
Frank Yair Estrada Marin, Batallon Pedro Justo Berrio, Carrera 70 Nro 1-50,
War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters and faxes of
In the case of Carlos Andrés Giraldo
Batallón plan energético y vial Nº 7
Att. Luis Miguel Gomez Qunitero
Fax +57-7-620 89 23 (call first - we are not sure this number works)
Ministro de Defensa Nacional
Dr Juan Manuel Santos
Avenida El Dorado Carrera 52 OFI.217
Centro Administrativo Nacional (CAN)
Defensoria del pueblo Barrancabermeja
Oficina Principal - Dirección: Calle 54 No. 27 - 65 (Barrancabermeja -
Teléfono: +57-7-6222733 - 6212999 - Fax: +57-5-6212666
Correo electrónico: firstname.lastname@example.org
Defensora del pueblo regional: Esperanza Ramírez Castro
A protest email (in Spanish) can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20070613b.html.
In the case of Frank Yair Estrada
Defensora del pueblo Medellín
Oficina Principal - Dirección: Carrera 42 No. 47 - 21 (Medellín -
Teléfono: +57-4 2181577 - 2163826 - 2160605 -
Correo electrónico: email@example.com
Defensora del pueblo regional: Sandra María Rojas Manrique
A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20070612a.html
Jairo Herrán Vargas
calle 44Nº 52 165, Oficina 1101, Fax +57-4-381 18 47, Email
A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/co/alerts/20070612b.html
War Resisters' International calls for the immediate release from
military service of Carlos Andrés Giraldo Hincapié and Frank Yair
War Resisters' International
Archives of co-alert can be found at http://wri-irg.org/news/alerts