Columbia (PanAm) – Officials Say a Kidnapping Would Violate International Humanitarian Law
Though there is no confirmation that the National Liberation Army (ELN) has kidnapped Spanish journalist Salud Hernández, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a warning recently saying that if they did, it would be a violation of international humanitarian law.
The ELN said it will consult with its various fronts to see if they do or do not have the reporter, and will issue a response in the coming days.
“Should it be confirmed that it was a kidnapping by ELN, it would not only be a crime under Colombian law, but also a violation of international humanitarian rights,” José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director for HRW América, said.
The Director of HRW and Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos have been working to install peace talks with the ELN guerillas for over two years.
“Obviously this kidnapping affects the conversations with whichever of these groups is responsible because kidnapping is a major crime,” Vivanco said. “The kidnapping should be taken into consideration until there is a plain, absolute and immediate release of Salud Hernández without any risk of her health or wellbeing.”
The Colombian government did not confirm nor deny the kidnapping of Hernández and the other two journalists from the private channel RCN Televisión that disappeared this Tuesday, May 24 in the same area, but the chief negotiator for the peace talks with ELN, Frank Pearl, has made a request to the guerillas to let all three go if they did in fact take them.
The President ordered army commanders, including General Alberto Mejía Ferrero and Jorge Nieto, as well as the police, to oversee an operation to find the journalists in that area.
The Head of the Department of Norte de Santander, where the journalists disappeared, has offered a reward of COP $100 million (US $32,680) in exchange for information of their whereabouts.
This report prepared by Sabrina Martín for PanAm Post.