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Colombia: batidas continue

A batida in MedellinA batida in MedellinWar Resisters' International received reports from several of its partners in Colombia that batidas - the recruitment of young men in raids on the streets - are continueing. Some of those recruited during recent batidas declared their conscientious objection, and two are listed on WRI's Prisoners for Peace Honour Roll 2010.

According to a communique of the Bogota based group ACOOC, batidas took place in Bogota, Medellin, and Quibdo, and also in Manizales and Cocorna, where soldiers went to the homes of some young men to illegally recruit them. Red Juvenil de Medellin reported several cases of batidas in the city of Medellin.

While batidas continue to be a common form of recruitment in Colombia, they are illegal according to Colombian and international law. In July 2010, the Human Rights Committee said in its Concluding Observations: "The State party should ... review the practice of “round-ups” (batidas)." (See CO-Update No 58, August 2010). With this Concluding Observations, the Human Rights Committee for the first time mentioned and criticised the practice of batidas, following up on the Opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which did the same in its Opinion No 8/2008.

Meanwhile, in several cities of Colombia new conscientious objectors are declaring their conscientious objection. Red Juvenil de Medellin emailed out a call for a national campaign for conscientious objection on 26 October 2010. Young men in Cali and Soacha are also preparing their declarations, thus using their right to conscientious objection following the sentence of the Constitutional Court from October 2009.

Sources: Red Juvenil de Medellin: Campaña urgente: Joven reclutado, Email, 25 October 2010; ACOOC: Aunque la objeción de conciencia al servicio militar obligatorio sea un derecho, el ejército nacional sigue reclutando ilegalmente, 13 October 2010; Red Juvenil de Medellin: Corre joven corre! De las balas, de las batidas, y de la represion del Esmad, 16 September 2010; Red Juvenil de Medellin: Denuncia urgente: Ademas de las arbitrariedades des escuadrones del Esmad en la universidad, las irregularidades de la Fuerza Publica en las batidas continuan, 16 September 2010; Red Juvenil de Medellin: Defensoria del Pueblo-Regional Antioquia se pronuncia sobre la ilegalidad de las batidas y pide a la Cuarta Brigada revisar esta practica, pues constituye privacion ilegal de la libertad, 27 September 2010