Bogoya, Colombia The government will pay $1.4 million to relatives of 19 farmers killed by paramilitaries in two massacres in the mid-1990s, honoring a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, authorities said Friday.
The Costa Rica-based court ruled earlier this month that the Colombian government was indirectly responsible for the slayings by far-right paramilitaries.
"Colombia will honor its international obligations," the office of President Alvaro Uribe said in a statement announcing the payments to victims' relatives.
"The court is saying that the state contributed to the creation of the paramilitaries and therefore had a special responsibility to ensure that the risks were minimized that the paramilitaries would attack the civilian population," according to Carlos Rodriguez-Mejia, one of the lawyers who brought the suit.
The 19 farmers were killed in 1996 and 1997 in Antioquia province, about 215 miles north of Bogota, the capital. The province had armed civilians to combat leftist insurgents, and many of them later joined the paramilitaries. Uribe was the governor of Antioquia at the time.
The lawsuit was brought by the Colombian Commission of Jurists and the Interdisciplinary Group for Human Rights.