The village of La Macarena is the capital of an isolated rural municipality, also called La Macarena, located in central Colombia. From 1999 to 2002 the region was demilitarised and handed over to the FARC guerrilla group as a location for the peace process that took place during those years, though in 2002, when the talks collapsed, the army began to take back territory. The region is now one of the most heavily militarised in Colombia and there has been an upsurge in human rights abuses such as extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.
In 2009 local human rights organisations documented what appeared to be a mass grave at La Macarena. The site was located adjacent to the municipal cemetery and a major military base. It was discovered after local residents complained that their water sources were contaminated – which was then traced back to liquid seeping from the dead bodies. The bodies were not properly identified – only a small flag placed in the earth by the gravedigger after the army brought him the bodies to bury. The human rights groups therefore requested, in August 2009, that the Inspector General of the Nation (Procuraduría General de la Nación) investigate the scene. A team from the Inspector General‟s "National Special Investigations Unit‟ was subsequently dispatched to La Macarena to conduct an initial study.
On 12th February 2010 the Inspector General‟s Office revealed that as a result of their study they believed that there were “approximately 2,000” unidentified bodies in the grave (see Appendix 1). The letter went on to say that the Inspector General‟s Office wished to obtain international assistance in order to exhume and identify the bodies.
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