We wish to make it known to both national and international public opinion that the Bernal Dueñas family has again been the victim of outrages perpetrated by the Colombian state intelligence and security services.
At 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday 26th November 2008 members of the Technical Investigation Group (CTI) of the Prosecutions Department, escorted by a large group of police and soldiers of the national army, arrived at the house of Señora Melba Stella Bernal Dueñas (state identity card number 31.471.140/Yumbo), located in the Guaduales neighbourhood of the city of Cali, in order to carry out a search operation. It should be mentioned that on their arrival they failed to present any lawful search warrant, nor were they accompanied by any civilian members of the public ministry.
The members of the CTI jumped over the security fence at the entrance to the house and ordered the occupants to open the door, failing which they would break it down. After cordoning off all the whole block and refusing to allow free movement to the neighbours, six members of the CTI entered the house, only four of whom were wearing uniform and carrying identification. They then separated the two people who were inside the house, the aforementioned Melba Stella Bernal Dueñas and Señora Sonia Isabel Rúa Restrepo (identity card number 31´872.224/Cali), who was with her at the time, preventing any type of communication between them and refusing them the right to make telephone calls.
It should also be noted that the day before the raid, according to information given by the neighbours, the house had been surrounded and photographed by individuals who remained for around eight hours in the vicinity.
The operation, which lasted for approximately four hours, resulted in the seizure of the following:
– two computers in poor condition,
– fifty music CDs and DVDs of films,
– two personal diaries,
– two USB memories,
– fourteen diskettes,
– seven caps or berets.
At the end of the search, at approximately 10:30 a.m., Señora Melba Stella asked for a copy of the record of what had taken place during the operation, together with
a justification for this, but she received no reply.
- The Bernal Dueñas family presented a denunciation to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) with regard to the disappearance of Olga Esther Bernal Dueñas in January 1988. In 1999 the Commission ruled in favor of the family, recognising the responsibility of the Colombian state for this crime.
- The members of this family have had to take refuge in other countries, since the harassment sparked off by the investigative process which concluded with the CIDH ruling put their personal safety and lives in danger.
- On Wednesday 19th November 2008, Melba Stella Bernal Dueñas was accosted by a man and a woman while she was having her lunch before returning to work. The man told her to sit down with them in a nearby restaurant because they had come from Bogota and needed to speak to her. These individuals made a series of accusations and proposals to her, attempting to involve her in illegal activities. Señora Bernal Dueñas asked them to identify themselves, whereupon the man showed her an identity card from the Reinsertion Programme of the Presidency of the Republic in the name of Samuel. The couple went away on the arrival of some of Señora Bernal Dueñas’s work colleagues, who managed to photograph them. As he was leaving, the man told her in an aggressive tone that he would seek her out again so that they could "negotiate" alone.
WE REQUEST all social organisations, defenders of human rights and national and international political bodies to show solidarity and to distribute this urgent action.
WE DEMAND THAT THE COLOMBIAN STATE:
•1. Stops all persecution, threats and harassment against the Bernal Dueñas family and that it guarantees their personal and physical safety, especially that of Señora Melba Stella Bernal Dueñas.
•2. Guarantees an independent, impartial and efficient investigation of the events and irregularities mentioned in this denunciation, thus restoring the good name of those affected and putting an end to the persecution.
Please send your communications to the following addresses:
Sr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez,
Presidencia de la República,
carrera 8 # 7-26, palacio de Nariño,
Bogotá D.C, Fax (+57) (1) 5662071. Correo:
Sr. Francisco Santos,
Vice-presidencia de la República, correo:
Sr. Carlos Franco,
Programa presidencial de Derechos Humanos y Derecho
calle 7 # 5-54 Bogotá D.C. tel.: (+57) (1) 3360311.
Sr. Volmar Antonio Pérez, Defensoría del Pueblo.
Calle 55 # 10 -32 pbx: (+57) (1) 3147300.
Sr. Mario Germán Iguarán Arana,
Fiscalía General de la Nación,
diagonal 22 b # 52-01. Bogotá D.C. Fax: (+57) (1) 5702000.
Santiago de Cali, 26th November 2008
[Colombia Solidarity Campaign adds: and, we recommend, to the Colombian Embassy in your country. In the UK this is email: firstname.lastname@example.org ]