Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 21st March 2005.

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Photo of John Battle John Battle Labour, Leeds West

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Colombian authorities regarding the murder of Luis Eduardo Guerra, leader of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community.

Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Foreign & Commonwealth Office

We are deeply shocked by the brutal killing of Luis Eduardo Guerra. Our embassy in Bogota has spoken to the judicial authorities and to Colombian Government representatives at the highest level to express our concerns regarding this killing. Luis Eduardo Guerra was a highly respected member of the Colombian NGO community and well known to our embassy. I met him during my visit to Colombia in 2004. I welcome the Colombian Government's assurances that there will be an impartial, swift and effective investigation into this, as well as into the other murders in the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community. Officials from the human rights unit in the Attorney-General's office, as well as forensic specialists and other officials, are in the area where the killings happened and are carrying out their investigation. This process includes interviews with members of the Peace Community, as well as all local army units, to try and establish the facts. We have also stressed to the Colombian authorities the need for proper protection to be given to witnesses of the crimes and of human rights defenders following thecase. The Colombian authorities have assured us that such protection will be available to anyone who needs it. We continue to closely monitor the situation. Those responsible, whoever they may be, must be brought to justice.

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