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Colombia Making Headway In Bolstering Security

Colombia Making Headway In Bolstering Security, UN Hears

New York, Sep 24 2008 7:10PM

Colombia’s citizens have shed their fear and have more confidence in the State, thanks to the consolidation of democracy and security in following years of fear imposed by terrorists, the South American nation’s President said today at the General Assembly's annual high-level segment.

Over two-thirds of the 60,000 terrorists who had “ravaged the country at the start of the Government” have turned their back on criminal activity and are taking part in a reintegration programme, Álvaro Uribe Vélez said.

But he noted that terrorists continue to be active, pointing to recent incidents such as the murder of a group of teachers and a deadly car bomb attack on the Justice building in the city of Cali, both perpetrated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Mr. Uribe stressed the importance his country places on the role of human rights in sustaining “democratic security.”

He emphasized Colombia’s “respect for liberties in the midst of the fight against terrorism; the openness for vigilance” and “criticism and debate at the national and international level,” among others.

Now, “citizens have greater faith in the State, and they seek their protection, overcoming the past indifference of some and the inclination of many to address their risks by their own means… citizens have lost their fear to denounce, give testimony and cooperate with the Armed Forces and with Justice.”

The President recalled his address to last year’s general debate, in which he voiced his frustration at not having been able to rescue former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and those held in captivity by FARC with her.

“Today, thanks to the heroism, planning and bloodless effectiveness of our soldiers, she is a symbol of freedom, a freedom that we claim to liberate those that are still kidnapped and to put an end to this shameful crime in our homeland,” he said.

ENDS

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