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COLOMBIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: Colombia ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 6 September 2000. Guerrilla groups continued to use antipersonnel landmines. Landmine Monitor identified a growing number of mine-affected areas, including at least 168 municipalities in 27 departments in all five regions of Colombia. A new pilot project on mine awareness and victim assistance is being implemented in 16 municipalities. A total of 83 mine casualties were recorded in 2000, an increase from 63 in 1999. From January through July 2001, 138 mine casualties were recorded. Colombia has reported a stockpile of 18,294 antipersonnel landmines.

Mine Ban Policy

Colombia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. On 14 January 2000, Colombian President Andrés Pastrana Arango signed ratification Law 554/2000 approving the treaty.[1] As established by Colombia’s Constitution, the Constitutional Court prepared the legal instrument for ratification of the treaty, completing this task in August 2000 with the approval of Sentence C991/00, which declares the constitutionality of the Mine Ban Treaty.[2] On 6 September 2000, President Pastrana deposited the instrument ratification with the United Nations, during the Millennium Assembly. The treaty entered into force for Colombia on 1 March 2001.

While Colombia has not passed any implementation legislation, several governmental agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Defense, National Ombudsperson Office, Vice President’s Office and Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the National Planning Department, are working together to develop a decree that establishes an inter-agency committee to work on landmines.[3] The government of Canada and non-governmental agencies including UNICEF Colombia, the Colombian Red Cross and the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines (Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas - CCCM) have been invited to support, monitor and consult on the process.[4]

Colombia’s initial Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report is due on 28 August 2001. In November 2000, an official from the Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (PP HR/IHL) said, “The government’s will is to comply with Article 7 comprehensively and on time, and in order to reach this goal, several governmental offices, such as this one, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will work together in coordination” to prepare the report.[5]

Colombia participated in the Second Meeting of States Parties in September 2000, with a delegation led by the Ambassador of its Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, Camilo Reyes Rodríguez. Ambassador Reyes Rodríguez stated that “in those situations in which obligations are derived by the state of International Humanitarian Law, the obligations of the Convention apply as much to State Parties as to non-state armed actors and therefore in the case of an armed conflict without an international character, in the territory of a State Party, each one of the contenders has the obligation to apply the norms of this Convention.”[6]

Colombia did not attend the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000, but did participate in the meetings in May 2001.[7] In addition, CCCM regularly briefs officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the intersessional work program.

On 6-7 November 2000, Colombia attended the Regional Stockpile Destruction Seminar in Buenos Aires, with a delegation from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense, and the Navy Weapons Office.

Also in November 2000, Colombia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 55/33V, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. Colombian representatives have made statements in support of the Mine Ban Treaty on several occasions. For example, in November 2000 during the Iberoamerican Summit, President Pastrana renewed the government’s will to comply with the treaty and added, “Other governments should also ask Colombian guerrillas to respect the will of all Colombians to ban and eradicate landmines.[8] In February 2001, the University of El Rosario together with CCCM co-hosted a seminar in Bogotá on “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombia and the Ottawa Convention.”

According to CCCM, on the international stage the government presents Colombia’s ratification of the treaty as a step toward recognizing the state’s will to control the means of using armed force, and as a step toward a broader human rights perspective. While the government is increasingly acknowledging the mine problem and initiating measures to address it, CCCM believes that the landmine problem still does not seem to be a priority for the government and is concerned that issues such as stockpile destruction, humanitarian demining and domestic implementation legislation have not yet been discussed with civil society sectors dealing with landmines issues.[9]

The civil society movement in support of the mine ban and eradication of the weapon in Colombia has grown in size and has expanded its efforts to secure support for the antipersonnel mine ban.[10] In September 2000, UNICEF Colombia and CCCM released a 61-page report drawn from its Landmine Monitor and additional research, entitled, “Sembrando Minas, Cosechando Muerte” (Sowing Mines, Harvesting Death).[11] The Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ) is examining the state’s legal responsibilities, not only on treaty implementation, but with respect to survivor assistance and assistance for mine-affected communities.[12] The Center for Research in Popular Education (Centro de Investigaciones en Educación Popular, CINEP) is gathering information on the mine problem and has developed a system aimed to assist victims on the legal processes for claims to government and their rights.[13] The Permanent Assembly for Peace (Asamblea Permanente por la Paz, APP) is involved in the development of a humanitarian agreement on landmines to include all armed actors taking part in the Colombian internal conflict.[14]

Colombia ratified Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) on 6 March 2000, and it entered into force on 6 September 2000.[15] Colombia has not yet submitted its Article 13 annual report for Amended Protocol II.[16] It did not attend the Second Annual Conference of State Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2000.


Colombia is a past producer of antipersonnel landmines. According to the General Command of Colombia’s Armed Forces, the government-owned Industria Militar (INDUMIL) production facility ceased production of antipersonnel mines in November 1999.[17] In a November 2000 letter from Indumil’s General Manager, General Nelson Mejía Henao, to the Vice Minister of Defense, Bernardo Ortiz Bravo, General Mejía stated that Indumil had informed the Direction of Special Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the production of 22,300 landmines destined to the Navy, the Army and the Air Force.[18]

Production of the Carga Direccional Dirigida (CDD) directional fragmentation munition (Claymore-type) continues at INDUMIL.[19]

Almost all major guerrilla groups have publicly acknowledged that they manufacture landmines.[20] According to the Ministry of the Defense’s Human Rights Office, the production and use by guerrilla groups of homemade antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines, and other improvised explosive devices increased in the second half of 2000.[21]


Colombia maintains it has never exported antipersonnel mines.[22] In the past, Landmine Monitor reported that Colombia imported antipersonnel mines from the US and perhaps other nations.[23] Colombia has now reported that it also imported SOPRO NR409 antipersonnel mines from Belgium.[24]

Government officials have on occasion stated that the illicit trade of weapons into Colombia has included antipersonnel mines, though Landmine Monitor is not aware of documented evidence of this. An officer in the Colombian Army, noting that the trade is nearly impossible to track, speculated that landmines entering Colombia for the most part originate in the Middle East.[25] According to a military source, when Anglican bishop Walter Crespo was captured by the police in March 2001, Crespo was attempting to bring at least 120 antipersonnel landmines from Libya into the country.[26] According to media reports, in September 2000, Panamanian police confiscated a number of weapons, reportedly including Russian-manufactured antipersonnel mines, allegedly destined for Colombian rebels.[27]

Stockpiling and Destruction

At the Regional Stockpile Destruction Seminar in Buenos Aires in November 2000, Colombia stated that the Armed Forces have 18,294 antipersonnel landmines.[28] In 1999, the Armed Forces indicated that there were at least 18,000 antipersonnel mines in stock.[29]

The Colombian Navy is the only branch of the Armed Forces that has so far provided information on its stockpiled antipersonnel mines. According to a document provided to Landmine Monitor, the Navy has a total of 4,194 antipersonnel mines.[30] This includes 2,194 MN-MAP-1 mines (Colombian-made), 1,986 AP-SOPRO mines (Belgian-made NR-409), and 14 M-14 mines (US-made).

Colombian Navy’s Stockpile of Antipersonnel Landmines[31]

PD Mochuelo
MN – MAP-1 (Colombia)
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
Cerro Mako
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed
AP-SOPRO (NR409 Belgium)
To be destroyed
AP –M14 (US)
To be destroyed
MN – MAP-1
To be destroyed

According to a statement by a member of the Mars Group who is in charge of the explosives division at the Military School of Engineers, it would seem that the stockpile of SOPRO mines was substantial at one point. He said, “The Army, as well as the rest of the military forces, are reducing the number SOPROs in the ground by the military removal of mines near no longer used military bases.[32]

An official in the International Affairs Office of the Ministry of Defense told Landmine Monitor that, “Colombian stockpiles are well-kept under comprehensive safety measures.... Stockpiles are in five different points of the country, since in the past they were distributed to the Army, Navy and Air Force.”[33]

In February 2001, an official in the Navy’s Inspection Office told Landmine Monitor, “The Army has already set a plan to destroy all stockpiled landmines between 3 March and 20 May 2001, in time to fulfill the “Managua Challenge” [to destroy all stockpiles by the Third Meeting of States Parties].[34] He added, “Mines will be destroyed using the open detonation method. We are only waiting for the Presidential directive on this issue to start.” The official said, “Landmines will be destroyed in facilities where they are actually stockpiled, due to the security risks involved in transporting them to other sites. We will have invited the Ministry of Environment and environmental NGOs to join us and certify environmental standards.” In May 2001, an official in the Ministry of Defense acknowledged that stockpile destruction had not begun.[35] As of the end of July 2001, no public announcements of stockpile destruction had been made.

According to INDUMIL, 2,542 antipersonnel landmines that remained at their weapons factories were destroyed on 2 July 1999. INDUMIL also stated that all the remaining materials needed to produce landmines were destroyed on 11 November 1999.[36]

Colombia has not requested international assistance for stockpile destruction, but Canada has offered in-kind contributions and technical support and training.[37] In February 2001, an Army official said that the department was processing information regarding costs of destruction of stockpiled mines.[38]

Government Use

The Commander of Colombia’s Armed Forces, General Fernando Tapias Stahelin, has previously stated that, prior to signing the Mine Ban Treaty, the Armed Forces laid approximately 20,000 antipersonnel mines throughout Colombian territory.[39]

According to Colonel Guillermo Leal Abadía, Colombia reserves the right to use Claymore mines.[40] Colonel Leal told Landmine Monitor, “Claymore mines are not prohibited under the Ottawa Convention if they are only command detonated, therefore, Colombia must not be considered to be violating the Treaty for its use of CDDs.”[41] According to INDUMIL’s production manager, the CDD mine can “only be detonated by remote control and are placed in sites where they represent absolutely no risk to civilians.”[42]

There was an allegation that members of the Colombian Army used mines in San José de Apartadó in the department of Antioquia. Justicia y Paz, an NGO engaged in community work in San José de Apartadó circulated a public communique signed by the Peace Community (Comunidades de Paz) of San José de Apartadó, informing of a mine incident:

“... With deep sorrow our Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, informs that today, 5 January 2001, at 1:10 p.m., the 16-year-old young peasant EUDIQUIO VASQUEZ became a victim of a mine that exploded leaving him without both legs and an arm. The mine was installed by National Army troops in terrain of use and transit of the civilian population without any signals, markings or warnings that could have avoided the tragedy.... The place where this tragedy occurred is located in a place where, for the past days...members of battalions Velez and Bejarano camped.”[43]

Landmine Monitor formally requested information from the Apartadó’s municipality Ombudsperson, Cesar Augusto Muñoz Lopera, who replied, “In this bureau, on 11 January 2001, Mrs. Alicia Vásquez Restrepo denounced that her 16-year-old son, WILTON EMILIO VASQUEZ RESTREPO suffered amputation of his right foot, fractures in his right hand and injuries in both left hand and leg as a consequence of a mina quiebrapata, on 23 December 2000, that activated when he stepped on it, facts occurred in San José de Apartadó, jurisdiction of this municipality.”[44] Muñoz Lopera added that no mention is made in the statement about who might be responsible for laying the mine.

The Seventeenth Brigade of the Colombian National Army sent a denial to José David Ibarra Contreras, State Attorney for the Urabá zone in Apartadó, Antioquia, which stated that a mine planted by FARC caused the accident.[45]

On 23 March 2001, Landmine Monitor discussed the incident in a meeting with the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Alfonso Ordóñez Quintana, General Inspector of the Armed Forces, Major General Jaime Humberto Cortés Parada, Counter-Admiral Guillermo Barrera Hurtado, and other high-ranking military officials. All of the officers at the meeting strongly affirmed, “The Armed Forces are required to follow, respect and protect the Ottawa Convention, understanding it as a humanitarian policy and a commitment by the national government.”[46]

Guerrilla Use

Colombia’s main guerrilla groups are: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army, FARC-EP), the Unión Camilista-Ejército Nacional de Liberación Nacional (Camilista Union-National Liberation Army, UC-ELN), and the Ejército Popular de Liberación (Popular Liberation Army, EPL). There are also numerous paramilitary groups, collectively termed the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-defense Groups of Colombia, AUC).

Colombia’s guerrilla groups have been using landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) for more than a decade and according to information collected by CCCM, they have used “quiebrapatas” (legbreaker) homemade mines for more than the past 15 years.[47] FARC-EP and UC-ELN, and the AUC paramilitaries continue to use antipersonnel mines on a regular basis, affecting both combatants and civilians.[48] According to a press release from the Colombian Army in March 2001, the use of gas cylinder IEDs and “quiebrapatas” mines has intensified since September 2000. It said, “The indiscriminate use of gas cylinders and antipersonnel landmines is now regularly and commonly used by those groups in every attack targeting both the military and civilian populations.”[49] The Human Rights Office of the Armed Forces reported that in 2000 there were 85 “infractions committed by subversive groups” involving antipersonnel landmines.[50]

According to a February 2001 US Department of State report on human rights in Colombia, guerrilla forces used landmines “both to defend static positions (such as base camps, cocaine laboratories, and sites at which kidnap victims were held) and as indiscriminate weapons of terror.”[51] The report notes that according to the Vice President’s office, FARC-EP and UC-ELN have laid an estimated some 50,000 mines in rural areas.

Specific instances of new use of antipersonnel mines include:

  • Use of mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) was reported on 29 September 2000, when the community football field was mined in Filo Gringo, municipality of Tibú, in Northern Santander department.[52]
  • On 1 October 2000, the Third Brigade of the National Army reported the deactivation of approximately 15 antipersonnel landmines, and several antivehicle mines of Chinese or Vietnamese origin, and fan type mines, in El Cedro, a rural zone in Jamundí municipality in the department of Valle del Cauca.[53]
  • On 4 October 2000, a school bus carrying children to “Los Vecinos” school hit an antivehicle mine in Usme, a rural area of Bogotá, on a road used by school buses and by children walking to school.[54] According to a Ministry of Defense official, the area was examined and “several antitank and antipersonnel landmines were detected, all with anti-handling devices... the mines were deactivated on site and do not pose a risk to the civilian population now.”[55]
  • In January 2001 new mine use was reported in Vereda Micoahumado, in the rural areas of San Pablo municipality, in the south of Bolívar department. There were four incidents resulting in three injuries and the death of a child.[56]
  • In March 2001, new mine use was reported in Vereda Miraflores in Pisba municipality, department of Boyacá[57] and in Vereda El Guayabo in Versalles municipality in Antioquia department[58] resulting in mine victims.
  • In March 2001, AUC paramilitaries were also reported to have used mines in Vereda El Diamante, rural municipality of Cali, where combats between the AUC and UC-ELN resulted in further incidents including two mine victims.[59]

FARC-EP does not deny its use of antipersonnel mines nor has it made any declaration that it will no longer use the weapon. In February 2001 the commander-in-chief of FARC-EP stated that FARC-EP forces continue to use landmines, but with “high respect and care for the civilian population.”[60] In July 2001, Jordan’s Queen Noor visited Colombia, along with Jim Kimsey, the President of America On Line (AOL). They held a meeting with the Commander-in-Chief of FARC-EP, Manuel Marulanda, and the High Commissioner for Peace, Camilo Gómez, at Los Pozos, San Vicente del Caguán, in the zone ceded to FARC-EP’s control (zona de despeje). The participants signed a statement which, among other things, said, “Commandant Manuel Marulanda...explained that FARC-EP does not plant antipersonnel mines that affect civilian population and FARC-EP does not have mine fields.”[61]

In June 2001, the Colombian Navy of the Pacific reportedly seized an arsenal of weapons held by the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense Groups - AUC, also referred to as paramilitaries), on the Mira river at Tumaco in Vereda El Congal, on the border with Ecuador.[62] According to the Navy, the arsenal reportedly included “quiebrapatas” mines, antipersonnel mines (of unspecified origin), and components (casings or “tapas”) for antipersonnel mines. On 26 June 2001, Admiral Alberto Rojas, Commander of Pacific Navy Fleet told media that “42 antipersonnel landmines were seized, destined for Auto-defence Groups operating in Cabo Manglares, Nariño.”[63] Admiral Rojas confirmed the information to Landmine Monitor.[64]

Landmine Problem

Information collected by the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines indicates that at least 168 of Colombia’s 1,092 municipalities in twenty-seven of the country’s thirty-two departments are mine-affected. There are mined areas in all five regions of Colombia: Amazonian (five mine-affected departments), Andean (nine mine-affected departments), Caribbean (six mine-affected departments), Orinoquia (four mine-affected departments), and Pacific (three mine-affected departments).

Previous Landmine Monitor research showed that in 1999, at least 125 municipalities in twenty-one departments were mine-affected, and in 2000, at least 135 municipalities in twenty-six departments were mine-affected.[65] In the period between May 2000 and May 2001 municipalities that were previously not believed to be mine-affected have reported new mine victims, bringing the total in 2001 to 168 municipalities in twenty-seven departments that are mine-affected.[66]

In the Andean region at least nine departments are mine-affected, including:

  • Antioquia department: Veredal in Versalles municipality reported that a minefield was laid in the perimeter of the only school in the zone, affecting at least 60 children who were unable to attend classes.[67] The community of some 350 people also used the school for community meetings.
  • Antioquia department: San José de Apartadó in the municipality of Apartadó reported mine victims due to new mine-laying.[68]
  • Boyacá department: Pisba municipality reported new mine-laying and new victims.[69]
  • Cauca department: La Vega municipality reported new mine and UXO victims.[70]
  • Cundinamarca department: Corregimiento La Virgen in Quipile municipality was reported by the police to be mine-affected.[71]
  • Cundinamarca department: There were reports of new mine-laying by different guerrilla groups in Sumapaz municipality.[72] Landmines are reportedly being laid along paths and community buildings, and in fields commonly used for cattle grazing.
  • Norte de Santander department (along the border with Venezuela): San Calixto municipality reported new landmine victims.[73]

In the Caribbean region, at least six departments are mine-affected, including:

  • Bolívar department: El Salado in the municipality of Carmen de Bolivar was reported mine-affected after a minefield was discovered and deactivated by the military, and several IEDs were stockpiled by FARC-EP.[74]
  • Magdalena department: Parrandaseca, a sector of the Sierra Nevada de Santamarta, an isolated mountain range, reported new mine-affected land and landmine victims following fighting in early 2001.[75]

In Orinoquia region at least four departments are mine-affected, including:

  • Meta department: El Castillo municipality was reported by local residents to be mine-affected after the death of two children.[76]
  • Guaviare department: San José del Guaviare municipality reported mine victims and the possible presence of more landmines, both antipersonnel and antivehicle, after the weapons where found and seized by military forces in the zone.[77]

In the Amazonian region at least five departments are mine-affected but no new municipalities were reported mined in 2000/2001. In the Pacific region at least three departments are mine-affected but no new municipalities reported mined in 2000/2001.

The significant impact of continued use of landmines by guerrilla groups in Colombia is increasingly evident, as new victims are reported on a regular basis, as well as forced displacement of communities and denial of use of agricultural lands. In November 2000, inhabitants of Vallecito, in the municipality of Morales in Bolívar department, were forced to abandon their homes during fighting between guerrilla and paramilitary forces. They could not return for more than a month, because their houses had been booby-trapped.[78] In February 2001, a community in Mutatá municipality in the department of Antioquia was forced to abandon their homes and crops following an anonymous announcement that there were unmarked minefields around several community facilities, including the school and the police inspection office.[79]

Fear of the presence of landmines planted by armed groups is also generating enormous social and economic losses in small agricultural communities. A peasant in the rural community of Buenavista, in the municipality of Santa Rosa del Sur in the department of Bolívar told Landmine Monitor, “I haven’t been able to return to my crops, in fact, I think I have permanently lost them, because I fear stepping on a landmine. I prefer me and my family become beggars before returning to this place where the guerrilla has told us that there are landmines.”[80]

In the period between May 2000 and April 2001, 15 schools in municipalities including Bogotá, Saravena, Tame, Zaragoza, Segovia, Morales and Santa Rosa del Sur, among others, were forced to stop classes due to the presence or suspected presence of landmines. According to the UN High Commissioner’s report on human rights in Colombia, children continue to be among the principal victims of the armed conflict, “especially of homemade antipersonnel landmines laid by the guerrillas.”[81]

Mines also have an impact on the economy. Electrical companies have been unable to make repairs to electrical towers due to the presence of mines.[82] Guerrilla groups have reportedly laid mines to deter military troops from patrolling Colombia’s largest oil pipeline, the Cano Limon-Coveñas oil pipeline.[83]

Mines even disrupt the peace process. In one incident, a US Senator, Paul Wellstone, and the US Ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson, escaped injury or death when police found two homemade landmines laid alongside a road leading from the airport to the town of Barrancabermeja, which they were visiting.[84]

According to the Colombian Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defense, guerrilla-laid minefields “are not usually marked, records are not kept and maps are obviously not made to ensure civilians will face no risks.”[85]

With the exception of the records on mine affected areas and mine casualties kept by CCCM and UNICEF Colombia, no in-depth assessment or survey of the mine and UXO problem in Colombia has been carried out. In May 2001, the Landmines Program Officer of the Vice-President’s Office stated, “These kind of surveys are strongly needed in a country such as Colombia, but there is no government capacity or knowledge yet for it to be conducted.... The Government has kindly asked UNMAS for an exploratory mission, and we are expecting an answer.”[86]

Mine Action Coordination and Funding

There is no agency or mechanism responsible for the coordination of mine action in Colombia, but government agencies, in consultation with CCCM and the International Committee of the Red Cross, are working to establish a high level “national authority, presided by the Vice President and with an Executive Secretariat performed by the Presidential Program of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.”[87]

According to a preliminary study conducted by the Presidential Office for Plan Colombia and the National Planning Department, the approximate cost of a complete integral mine action program including mine clearance, victim assistance and mine awareness is estimated at a minimum of $14 million over the next ten years.[88] However, according to an official of the President’s Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, this figure is based on preliminary studies and unofficial research, and “by no means represents the real costs of mine action programs.”[89]

The Colombian government allocated US$158,728 for mine action in the country, including $141,728 for a pilot project on mine awareness and victim assistance,[90] and $17,000 allocated by the Ministry of Communications as part of the agreement with UNICEF Colombia and the Canadian embassy for UNICEF Colombia’s Mine Awareness Programs.[91] Given an estimated national population of 39 million people, these allocations represent just a US$0.004 per capita allocation for mine action.

In April 2001, the US Department of State contributed $95,000 to UNICEF Colombia for the production of mine awareness materials and mine awareness programs in the period from April 2001 to April 2003.[92] In March 2001, the Canadian government announced a contribution of US$64,805 for mine action programs in Colombia, to be spent in the period from August 2001 to August 2003.[93] The contribution is an extension of the agreement signed in 1999 between Canada, the Ministry of Communications and UNICEF Colombia. The funds are for the development of emergency programs on mine awareness, continuing mine awareness programs for affected communities, and educational programs for children in mine-affected communities.

Mine Clearance

According to the Annual Report 2000 on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law by the Ministry of Defense, the government is obliged to destroy all mines laid in national territory within 20 years, and in negotiations with insurgent groups, seek a compromise for them to clear and destroy mines they have laid in the national territory.[94] The Mine Ban Treaty requires clearance within a ten-year period, with a possibility of extension of the deadline.

There are no systematic humanitarian mine clearance operations or demining training programs in Colombia.[95] General Alfonso Ordóñez Quintana, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Landmine Monitor, “Our explosives divisions are well trained in helping communities to clear strategic places such as schools, paths, and ponds, as well as our obvious landmine removal during military operations.”[96] General Ordóñez acknowledged the need for more continuous work with communities to establish priorities, but noted, “This would require special training and financial resources, which unfortunately we do not have.”[97]

A research and development project on mine clearance technologies was undertaken at the School of Engineering of the University of Los Andes, but according to the researchers, the initiative failed due to a lack of interest, both inside and outside the country.[98]

Mine Awareness

Canada, the United States (through UNICEF) and the government are currently funding mine awareness programs in Colombia.[99] The government has granted approximately US$141,728 for a pilot project on mine awareness and victim assistance to be implemented in 16 municipalities of three of the most mine-affected departments in the country (Antioquia and Santander in the Andean region and Bolívar in the Caribbean region).[100] UNICEF Colombia is implementing the project in cooperation with the Scouts Association, Indepaz, the Peace and Democracy Corporation, the Roosevelt Institute, Permanent Assembly for Peace (a civil society group), and REDEPAZ.[101] The pilot project’s timeline is from July 2001 to January 2002. It aims to establish a database on mine casualties and mine-affected communities and to start building local mine action capacity and mine awareness programs.[102]

Landmine Casualties

The main source of information on landmine casualties in Colombia is still the media. Information is also received from the military. Reports are collected and verified by CCCM, in cooperation with UNICEF Colombia, with local mayors and hospitals, as well as with the Ombudsman office in each municipality. According to CCCM, the figures reported significantly underestimate the actual number of antipersonnel mine victims in the country, due to lack of systematic reporting and the fact that many landmine casualties are still believed to go unregistered.

According to CCCM, the number of casualties has increased from 63 in 1999 to 83 in 2000. The year 2000 casualties include 23 killed and 60 injured; 51 men, 21 women, and 11 unknown gender; 64 adults, eight children, and 11 unknown age. The largest number of casualties was recorded in the departments of Bolívar and Magdalena in the Caribbean region and in Norte de Santander department in the Andean region.

From January through July 2001, a total of 138 mine casualties were reported, including 27 killed and 111 injured. Sixty-one were civilians and 77 combatants; 112 men, 14 women, 12 unknown gender; 81 adults, 43 children, and 14 unknown age. This enormous increase in the number of reported victims in 2001 is likely due in part to increased use of mines by guerrilla groups, but also reflects the improvement, refinement and expansion of reporting mechanisms; the media is reporting mine incidents on a more regular basis and the military is keeping and updating more information on mine incidents.

A statistical survey by CCCM has identified 736 mine victims in 23 departments in the period from 1993 to 1999.[103] The highest number of casualties was 151 recorded in 1997.

Survivor Assistance

Medical, surgical and rehabilitation services for victims are usually located in the main urban centers, whereas most victims live in rural areas. In rural areas, it is sometimes nearly impossible to get immediate medical help and can sometimes take hours or even days to reach the nearest hospital. The injured person is often presumed to be the enemy, making their transit extremely dangerous. Some major hospitals can provide quality medical assistance to mine victims, but the costs are high. There are relatively few doctors expert in dealing with the complex surgical demands of landmine injuries. Most victims never receive mobility devices, apart from crutches or improvised prostheses.

Four institutions manufacture prostheses and provide services for landmine and other victims of violence.[104] One of these, Bogotá-based CIREC (the Foundation for Reconstructive Surgery) produces approximately 500 lower limb prostheses and about 3,000 orthoses each year with an annual budget of $1.5 million. [105] Another orthopedic workshop, Rehabilitación Integral (REI), supported by Handicap International (Belgium), produced 82 prostheses and 80 orthopedic devices in 2000 with an annual budget of 250,000 Euros.[106]

Colombian landmine survivors have been increasingly active in both the domestic campaign against the weapon and in support of the efforts of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.[107] Two Colombian survivors are participating in the Landmine Survivors Advocate Training Program implemented by the US-based NGO, Landmine Survivors Network (LSN).[108]

The government acknowledges that the proper care of casualties is made difficult by the distances between the site of the incident and health centers, lack of first aid knowledge, and limitations on the provision of socio-economic rehabilitation.[109]

In response to the lack of adequate survivor assistance, the government has launched a Program for Mine Accident Prevention and Victim Assistance. The victim assistance component of the program will include:

  • health and rehabilitation: including a guarantee that all mine survivors will receive specialized and timely first aid, care, and physical and psychological rehabilitation;
  • educational integration: to promote the integration of mine victims of all ages into the education system if they have not completed the basic cycle of nine years;
  • employment reintegration: to facilitate access to sources of income for mine victims and their families through economic support and technical training that permits developing self-reliance; and
  • accessibility: to promote access to public spaces for the disabled including hospitals, parks, transport, and public buildings.

The Program began in May 2001, in four departments and 20 municipalities where around 48 percent of all antipersonnel mine incidents occur. Santader departments: municipalities of Barrancabermeja, San Vincente de Chucurí, El Carmen, El Playón, and Floridablanca. Bolívar departments: municipalities of Achi, Morales, Zambrano, Santa Rosa del Sur, Carmen de Bolivar, and San Pablo. Antioquia departments: municipalities of Segovia, Turbo, Mutata, Caicedo, and San Francisco. Arauca Department: municipalities of Arauquita, Saravena, Tame, and Fortul.

UNICEF and twenty other NGOs are involved in the Program. The government through the Fondos de Inversiones para la Paz FIP (Peace Investment Fund) and the Colombian Petroleum Company (Ecopetrol) has allocated US$213,181 for the pilot stage in 20 municipalities and $227,272 for its extension into 16 additional municipalities. For developing and implementing the victim assistance program in 164 municipalities of the 23 mine-affected departments, the total cost is estimated at almost $8 million.[110]

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[1] “Convención sobre la Prohibición del empleo, almacenamiento, producción y transferencia de minas antipersonal y sobre su destrucción,” Diario Oficial (Official Gazette of the Colombian Republic), 18 January 2000, p. 1-7.
[2] For Sentencia C991/00 see http://www.mindefensa.gov.co/NuevoWeb/normatividad/C-991-00.htm.
[3] Interview with officials in Disarmament Unit, Direction of Special Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bogotá, 22 February 2001.
[4] Invitation letter from the Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law to CCCM, 18 February 2001; interview with Alberto Bejarano, President, Colombian Red Cross, Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[5] Interview with Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Vice-President’s Office, Bogotá, 2 November 2000.
[6] Statement by Ambassador Camilo Reyes Rodríguez at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, Switzerland, 13 September 2000.
[7] The Colombian delegation included Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Vice-President’s Office, Pedro Agustín Roa, Disarmament Unit of the Special Affairs Direction at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and María Alejandra Gutiérrez, Director of the Human Rights and International Affairs office at the Ministry of the Defense.
[8] Statement by President Pastrana during the Iberoamerican Summit, Madrid, 4-7 November 2000.
[9] No response was received to several written requests by CCCM to the Minister of the Defense, the General Command of the Military Forces and the office of the High Commissioner for Peace.
[10] CCCM has developed a decentralized pattern, helping in the establishment of regional campaigns, comprised of regional organizations that work on the landmine issue. For example, the Antioquia Campaign Against Landmines engages 15 local organizations, while the Santander Campaign is formed by 9 organizations. After ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty, organizations initiated a joint call for enactment of national implementation legislation.
[11] UNICEF Colombia, the Ministry of Communications and the Canadian Embassy commissioned the publication; 1,000 copies were printed in Spanish as well as 500 in English.
[12] Interview with Andrés Sánchez Thorin, Debates Coordinator, Colombian Commission of Jurists, Bogotá, 29 January 2001.
[13] Interview with Ignacio Arango, Researcher, CINEP, Bogotá, 29 January 2001.
[14] Interview with Luis Alfredo Fajardo, Researcher, Asamblea Permanente por la Paz, Bogotá, 29 January 2001.
[15] Information provided by the Judicial Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor, 14 November 2001.
[16] Information provided by the Disarmament Unit, Direction of Special Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bogotá, 13 November 2000.
[17] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 314.
[18] It is not specified if the mines are antipersonnel or antivehicle mines. Letter from Indumil’s General Manager, General Nelson Mejía Henao to Vice Minister of Defense, Bernardo Ortiz Bravo, No. 16971 G-OJ-016, dated 7 November 2000.
[19] Interview with Engineer Sergio Rodriguez, Technical Second Manager, INDUMIL, 24 July 2001.
[20] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 294-5.
[21] Interview with Colonel Carlos Julio Castillo, Human Rights Office Director, Ministry of the Defense, Bogotá, 16 January 2001.
[22] Interview with Alvaro Arias, Director, International Issues, Ministry of National Defense, Bogotá, 20 January 2000.
[23] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p.295-296.
[24] Colombian Navy Registry Form for Stockpiled AP Mines, presented by Navy representatives at the seminar “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombia and the Ottawa Convention,” 27 February 2001.
[25] Interview with Colonel Guillermo Leal Abadía, Colombian Army, Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[26] Interview with Colonel Jose Obdulio Espejo, Director, Army News Agency, Colombian Army, Bogotá, 15 March 2001. See also, “Falso Obispo traficante de armas habla al Canal Caracol sobre nexos con FARC,” Caracol Noticias, Bogotá, 16 March 2001.
[27] “El comercio de las armas en Panamá,” CNN Digital in El Panamá América (Panamá), 23 October 2000; “Panamanian Authorities Seize New Arms Shipment Bound for Colombia,” EFE (Panama City) via Comtex, 17 September 2000; Jean Michel Chérry, “Armamento incautado sería para insurgentes Colombianos,” El Panamá América (Panamá), 9 January 2001; “Incautado en Panama arsenal que tenia como destino Colombia,” Caracol Noticias (Bogotá), 8 September 2000; interview with Colonel Jose Obdulio Espejo, Director, Army News Agency, Colombian Army, Bogotá, 15 March 2001.
[28] Oral remarks by representative of Colombia to the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction, Buenos Aires, 6-7 November 2000, notes taken by Landmine Monitor researcher.
[29] Letter from the General Command of the Military Forces to the Human Rights Unit of the Ministry of National Defense, numbered 2850-MDASE-DH-725, signed by Hugo Mauricio Ortiz Concha, in absence of Major General Mario Hugo Galán Rodriguez, General Inspector of the Military Forces of Colombia.
[30] Colombian Navy Registry Form for Stockpiled AP Mines, presented by Navy representatives at the seminar “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombia and the Ottawa Convention,” 27 February 2001. Subsequent corrections to this document were provided to the Landmine Monitor researcher in July 2001.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Interview with Lieutenant Luis Angel, Mars Group, Bogotá, 23 August 2000.
[33] Interview with Captain Mario Escobar, Direction of Navy Weapons, at the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction, Buenos Aires, 6-7 November 2000.
[34] Statement by Captain Mario Escobar, Direction of Navy Weapons, at the seminar “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombian and the Ottawa Convention,” Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[35] Interview with Germán Espejo, Assistant, Office of International Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Bogotá, 2 May 2001.
[36] Letter from General Nelson Mejía Henao, General Manager of INDUMIL, to Bernardo Ortiz Bravo, Vice Minister of Defense, No. 16971 G-OJ-016, dated 7 November 2000. The letter mentions Acta 188, 2 July 1999.
[37] Interview with Mélanie Regimbal, Program Coordinator, Mine Action Team, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Bogotá, 27 February 2001.
[38] Statement by Colonel Guillermo Leal Abadía, Colombian National Army, at the Seminar “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombia and the Ottawa Convention,” Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[39] Interview with Captain Miguel Torralvo, Bogotá, 19 January 1999; and interview with Major Juan Carlos Barrios, Director of the Human Rights Office, V Division, Colombian Armed Forces, Bogotá, 24 February 1999.
[40] Statement by Colonel Guillermo Leal Abadía, Colombian National Army, during the “Antipersonnel Landmines: Colombia and the Ottawa Convention” Seminar, Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[41] Interview with Colonel Guillermo Leal Abadía, Colombian Army, Bogotá, 28 February 2001.
[42] Interview with Engineer Sergio Rodriguez, Production Manager, INDUMIL, 5 July 2000.
[43] Statement signed by Comunidad de Paz de San José de Apartadó, Apartadó, Antioquia, Colombia, 5 January 2001.
[44] Letter from Cesar Augusto Muñoz Lopera, Apartadó’s Ombudsperson, to CCCM, No. PMA-140, signed on 14 March 2001.
[45] Penal denounce No. 01, No. 00021/DIV-BR17-DH-725, directed to José David Ibarra Contreras, State Attorney for the Urabá zone, dated in Carepa, Antioquia, 13 January 2001.
[46] Statement by General Alfonso Ordóñez Quintana, Chief of the Estado Mayor Conjunto, National Military Forces, Bogotá, Colombia, 23 March 2001.
[47] CCCM field visits to mine-affected areas in Santa Rosa del Sur, San Pablo, Bolivar, San Vicente de Chucurí, Santander and Apartadó, Antioquia, Colombia, November 2000 to February 2001.
[48] US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights and Practices-2000: Colombia,” February 2001, pp. 41-42. See also, “En Berrecil, Cesar, desactivan campo minado,” El Heraldo, Barranquilla, 22 March 2001.
[49] Press release, “Guerrilla usa más cilíndros y minas,” Agencia de Noticias del Ejército (Bogotá), 22 March 2001.
[50] Sistema de Información de la Defensa Nacional, “Fuerza Pública- derechos humanos, ” at www.mindefensa.gov.co/siden22/fuerza/ffmm_ddhh_1.html.
[51] US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights and Practices-2000: Colombia,” February 2001, p. 42.
[52] “Minan campo de futbol,” El Tiempo (Bogotá), 29 September 2000.
[53] “Golpe al ELN en El Cedro,” El País (Cali), 2 October 2000.
[54] “Niños ilesos tras explosión de mina,” El Colombiano (Medellín), 4 October 2000.
[55] Interview with Captain Javier Ayala, Director of Human Rights Office, Ministry of the Defense, Bogotá, Colombia, 6 October 2000.
[56] “Los verdugos de los niños,” Vanguardia Liberal (Bucaramanga), 7 January 2001; “Dos niños víctimas de las minas quiebrapatas,” La Opinión (Cúcuta), 30 January 2001.
[57] “Niño perdió brazos por mina,” Vanguardia Liberal (Bucaramanga), 27 March 2001.
[58] “Carretera al colegio de los niños la descubren minada,” El Informador (Santamarta), 17 March 2001.
[59] “Mutilado por mina quiebrapata,” Diario de Occidente (Popayán), 22 March 2001.
[60] Public statement by Manuel Marulanda, FARC Commandant, National Radio Channel RCN, 9 February 2001.
[61] Press release by FARC–EP on the occasion of Queen Noor’s visit to Colombia. Signed by Queen Noor, Jim Kimsey, Camilo Gómez and Manuel Marulanda in Los Pozos, San Vicente de Caguán, 7 July 2001, at www.farc-ep.org.
[62] “Golpe a AUC cerca de Ecuador. La Fuerza Naval del Pacífico decomisó municiones y armas,” El País (Cali), 25 June 2001.
[63] “Desmantelan campo de las Autofensas en Nariño,” Information service, Caracol noticias, 26 June 2001.
[64] Telephone interview with Admiral Alberto Rojas, Commander, Pacific Navy Fleet, 27 July 2001.
[65] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 317-320 and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 299-301.
[66] Increases in the number of mine-affected areas reflects not only new use of mines, but also expanded and improved research, identifying previously unknown areas that were mine-affected.
[67] “Descubren carretera minada empleada por ninos para ir a la escuela,” Caracol noticias (Bogotá), 16 March 2001.
[68] “Dos niños víctimas de las minas quiebrapatas,” La Opinión (Cúcuta), 30 January 2001.
[69] “Nino de cuatro anos pierde manos por mina,” El Tiempo (Bogotá), 25 January 2001.
[70] “La Vega bajo el terror,” El Tiempo (Bogotá), 3 March 2001.
[71] “Policia denuncia ante Naciones Unidas que las Farc violan el DIH,” Caracol noticias (Bogotá), 6 May 2001.
[72] “Guerrilla mina alrededores de zona de despeje,” Caracol Noticias (Bogotá), 4 March 2001.
[73] Press release, “Niño víctima de mina en San Calixto,” Agencia de noticias del Ejército (Colombian Army News Agency), 5 December 2000.
[74] “Autoridades descubren campamento guerrillero para albergar a 200 hombres,” Caracol Noticias (Bogotá), 5 May 2000.
[75] “Más mutilados en la Sierra,” El Heraldo (Barranquilla), 7 January 2001.
[76] Telephone interview with Colonel Carlos Vigoya, Commander of Serviez Battalion, Colombian Army, Villavicencio, 15 March 2001.
[77] “Mueren cinco paramilitares en enfretamientos con el ejército,” Caracol Noticias (Bogotá), 5 May 2001.
[78] Interview with Rodrigo Vega, Army Major’s Bureau Secretariat, Morales, Bolívar, 28 November 2000.
[79] Allegations by the affected community were made to UNICEF Colombia via telephone, 15 February 2001.
[80] Testimony of a landmine victim who asked not to be identified, in the community of Santa Rosa del Sur, Department of Bolívar, given to CCCM during field trip to affected zones in Santa Rosa del Sur, San Pablo, Bolívar, San Vicente de Chucurí, Santander and Apartadó, Antioquia, November 2000 to February 2001.
[81] Naciones Unidas, Consejo Económico y Social, Comisión de Derechos Humanos, “Informe de la Alta Comisionada de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en Colombia,” Document E/CN.4/2001/15, 20 March 2001, paragraph 108.
[82] “Landmines Hinder Repairs to Electricity Towers,” El Tiempo (Bogotá), 5 January 2001.
[83] “Six Colombians injured in land mine explosion,” Agence France Presse (Bogotá), 14 June 2001.
[84] “Police Thwart Colombia Attack Plan,” Associated Press (Bogotá), 1 December 2000.
[85] Interview with General Bernardo Ordóñez, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colombian Armed Forces, Ministry of Defense, Bogotá, 23 March 2001.
[86] Intervention of Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Vice-President’s Office, during the intersessional meetings held in Geneva, Switzerland, 9 May 2001.
[87] Draft decree to establish a national authority to work on landmines. Received by CCCM on 22 April 2001.
[88] Andrés Celis, Joint presentation by the Vice-President’s Office and National Planning Department to government officials and NGOs, Informal Document, Bogotá, Colombia, August 2000.
[89] Ibid.
[90] Statement by Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Vice-President’s Office, to the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness, 8 May 2001.
[91] Interview with Alida Becerra, Social Affairs Officer, Ministry of Communications, Bogotá, 9 February 2001, and interview with Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Bogotá, 4 April 2001.
[92] Interview with Clara Marcela Barona, Communications Officer, UNICEF Colombia, Bogotá, 4 April 2001.
[93] Interview with Simon Cridland, Second Political Secretary, Canadian Embassy, Bogotá, 22 March 2001.
[94] Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, “Informe Annual Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional Humanitario 2000,” p.30. See www.mindefensa.gov.co/publicaciones/ministerio.html.
[95] Interview with General Bernardo Ordóñez, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ministry of Defense, Bogotá, 23 March 2001.
[96] Ibid.
[97] Ibid.
[98] Interview with Carlos Francisco Rodríguez and Carlos Marcelo Hernández, Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Demining technologies researcher, School of Engineering, University of Los Andes, Bogotá, 27 February 2001.
[99] Interview with Clara Marcela Barona, Communications Officer, UNICEF Colombia, Bogotá, 4 April 2001.
[100] Interview with Beatriz Helena Gutiérrez, Landmines Program Officer, Presidential Program for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, Bogotá, 28 March 2001.
[101] Interview with Clara Marcela Barona, UNICEF Colombia, Bogotá, 4 April 2001.
[102] The program will be implemented in the municipalities of San Vicente de Chucurí, El Carmen de Chucurí, El Playón and Floridablanca in the department of Santander; Santa Rosa del Sur, San Pablo, Zambrano, Morales and Achí in the department of Bolívar; and Segovia, San Francisco, Turbo, Mutatá and Caicedo in the department of Antioquia. “Convenio de cooperación técnica y cofinanciación No. 0891-2001,” between Unicef Colombia, la Corporación para la Paz y los Derechos Humanos – REDEPAZ, y la Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura – OEI, April 2001, p. 1-2 .
[103] Statistical study by CCCM, on the basis of data provided by Fundación Sueños, National Army of Colombia, Office of the National Ombudsman of Colombia, Personería Municipal de San Vicente de Chucuri, and Personería Municipal de Santa Rosa del Sur. CCCM, “List of Victims of AP Mines in Colombia,” 1993-1999, Bogotá, April 2000.
[104] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 322.
[105] CIREC, “Polypropylene prostheses for Lower Limb Amputees, Victims of Landmines.” See www.landminevap.org/display.html?id=91.
[106] Handicap International (Belgium), “Colombia mission report: 26 March 2001-11 April 2001,” by Handicap International (Belgium) Desk Officer Martine Vanacker, p. 8.
[107] See for example Letter from Edgar Moreno, Colombian Campaign Against Landmines, in “Commentary: Voice of the People (letter) Mine Survivor,” Chicago Tribune, 19 September 2000, p. 12.
[108] Landmine Survivors Network, “Report: Raising the Voices Landmine Survivor Advocate Training Program,” 5-12 May 2001.
[109] Statement by Beatriz Elena Gutierrez Rueda, Coordinator of the Presidential Program on Mine Accident Prevention and Victim Assistance, to the Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Geneva, 8 May 2001.
[110] Ibid.