UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Condemns Murders

March 9, 1999

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, on Tuesday condemned the brutal murder of three indigenous human rights activists in Colombia last week, and urged the authorities to fully investigate the murders and bring the perpetrators to justice. The victims, who had been kidnapped on 25 February, were found on March 4 blindfolded, handcuffed and shot several times through the head. They had been visiting the Uw'a, an indigenous people of about 5,000 living in the Arauco region of Colombia, who are opposed to oil exploitation on their lands. The High Commissioner paid tribute to the three and recalled that one of them, Ingrid Washinawatok, a member of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin, was well known to the international community for her active defence of indigenous rights. In a message of condolence to the bereaved families, Ms. Robinson recognized the courage and commitment of the slain activists and reaffirmed her Office's determination to protect the human rights of the world's indigenous peoples. The High Commissioner expressed her concern that despite the growing international consensus on indigenous rights, and the proclamation by the General Assembly of an International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995 - 2004) aimed at bringing about respect for indigenous cultures, indigenous rights defenders remained targets of human rights violations.

Source: United Nations Daily Highlights, 99-03-09 http://www.un.org