New report from ACOOC: “Although they are prohibited”

Feb 18, 2016 | Anti-militarization, Conscientious Objection, Human Rights, Impunity and Justice, News, Our Partners, Peace and Nonviolence, War and Conflict

Para la versión en español, haz clic aquí.

“In regards to restrictive measures of personal liberty which lack judicial authorization, roundups or raids (…) are prohibited by the Constitution”. Despite this ruling made in 2014 by the Constitutional Court of Colombia in resolution T-455, the practice of systematically rounding up youth by members of the National Army (arbitrary detention with the goal of recruitment), still continues in Colombia, as proven by the Collective Action for Conscientious Objectors (ACOOC) in their daily accompaniment of roundup victims.

Informe ACOOC 2015ACOOC has released their annual report about arbitrary detentions with the goal of recruitment as a follow up to the ruling by the Constitutional Court. Aunque están prohibidas (Although they are prohibited) proposes an analysis of the six months following the ruling on January 27, 2015. ACOOC collected information from reports they received through calls, emails, public and personal reports in coordination with the District Process of Conscientious Objection [1] and the Bogotá District Secretary of Government.

In this report, ACOOC reiterates that arbitrary detentions with the goal of recruitment break recruitment laws. The army takes advantage of the ambiguity of the term “to compel,” which has been diminished in scope through two rulings by the Constitutional Court [2], and cannot be used to detain youth approached by the army. Nevertheless, this practice continues. Various Colombian civil organizations continue to denounce it, backed by reports by the United Nations [3] and national entities like the Ombudsman [4] and the Supreme Court [5], as well as the Colombian media [6].

Despite significant underreporting, ACOOC has recorded 70 cases of arbitrary detention with the goal of recruitment between January 27 and July 27, 2015, with at least 300 direct victims from these operations. The roundups were done in Bogotá and Soacha, where 281 complaints were reported.

Gráfico Informe ACOOC 2015These operations are not random; they mainly occur on the days before and after the recruitment of regular soldiers to attain the recruitment quotas of the district military. In Bogotá the roundups happen at rush hour, and are carried out mostly close to the metro stations and in low-income neighborhoods. The raids are often made worse by the army’s retention of identification documents and/or verbal and physical violence.

Thanks to the accompaniment of ACOOC and other civil organizations, 32 youth detained arbitrarily within the period of the study have been released. To effectively end this practice, ACOOC recommends that authorities investigate these cases, and hold accountable commanders in charge of these operations, as well as the sub-officials that carry them out.

Beyond this practice of recruitment, the report sends a strong message about the construction of peace in Colombia. ACOOC’s reflection on peace is focused on, “the construction of a civil society that favors the strengthening of [Colombia’s] ties to institutions for civil society over the maintenance of a model of military recruitment that tends to grow through the ignorance of legal and constitutional mandates.”

For more information, read the complete report in spanish here Aunque están prohibidas .


[1] The District Process of Conscientious Objection is a joint space where different organizations of Colombian civil society converge.

[2] Resolution C-879 de 2011 y Resolution T-455 de 2014.

[3] These reports include: Opinion 8 of 2008 from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions; 2011 Annual Report of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights; Alternate Report on abuse, cruel and unsual punishment, inhuman or degrading treatment in Colombia 2009-2014 presented to the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

[4] 2014 report “Military Service in Colombia: Incorportation, recruitment and conscientious objection.”

[5] In an announcement from the Court of Appeals of the Colombian Supreme Court on September 2015, through an act of Habeas Corpus.

[6] In addition to the news presented in ACOOC’s report, here are two articles on the subject of conscientious objection in Colombia: ; .