Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen T.D.
I am concerned at reports of a massacre of villagers in La Union community in Colombia last month and at the overall deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in that country, in particular the increasing number of inhuman acts of violence and atrocities affecting the civilian population. I condemn all human rights abuses, as well as acts of terrorism and breaches of international humanitarian law and I would place particular emphasis on the need to bring those responsible for human rights violations to justice. All armed groups should end acts of violence, respect human rights and engage in the Colombian peace process.
An Irish Franciscan priest, Father Brendan Forde ministers to the community where the massacre took place. I have written to Dr Guillermo Fernandez de Soto, the Colombian Foreign Minister. The Irish Ambassador in Mexico has been in contact with Fr. Forde and I have asked the Irish Embassy in Washington to make contact with the US State Department on the situation.
On a separate issue, I am aware of reports that an 18 year-old Irish citizen, Mr. Tristan Garcia, was kidnapped in early July in Tolima, Columbia along with a young Columbian friend, Javier Nova. His family believe he may have been murdered. I have asked the Irish Ambassador in Mexico to use all possible means available to him to try and establish what has happened to him.