In the run-up to a nationwide conscientious objectors' conference from 18-20 July 2006, CO groups in Colombia are confronting the situation in their country more openly. On 31 May, Red Juvenil de Medellín launched a one-year campaign "for the visibility of conscientious objection in Colombia" in front of the IV brigade. Objectives of this campaign are:
- The creation of a national and international climate for the debate of the situation of conscientious objectors in Colombia, with the aim to find a political solution;
- To demonstrate to young people that there is an alternative to joining the military, other Armed Forces, militias, or the police, and to show an alternative of a country without military and other Armed Forces, without weapons, and were young people can live in dignity;
- Providing evidence that the Colombian state invests more into the armed conflict than into the welfare of its population, to the benefit of national and foreign businesses, and showing that the majority of those killed are young people, from poor and rural communities.
Andre Alexis Perez Roldan (picture above right) is one of those who publicly declared their conscientious objection (His declaration is available in Spanish on WRI's website). Other cases include Gustavo Monroy, whose case has been reported last month in CO-update.
While Colombia recognises freedom of conscience in its constitution, it does not in practice recognise the right to conscientious objection. Conscientious objectors are at risk of being forcibly recruited to the military, and also face pressure from the various other Armed Forces.
The various Colombian CO groups are cooperating in the Acción Colectiva por la Objeción de Conciencia en Colombia, which is organising an national and international conference in Bogota from 18-20 July 2006. This conference will be an important step in the promotion of the right to conscientious objection in Colombia.
Sources: Several emails from Red Juvenil de Medellín, emails from Acción Colectiva por la Objeción de Conciencia en Colombia.