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Cablegate: Colombia: Tracking Convictions in Labor Violence

VZCZCXYZ0017
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #6746/01 2601530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171530Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8837
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7750
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9315
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ SEP 8918
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5400
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0636
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6002
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4069
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 006746

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM PTER KJUS CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA: TRACKING CONVICTIONS IN LABOR VIOLENCE
CASES

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. The Prosecutor General's Office (Fiscalia) created a
special sub-unit in October 2006 to focus on prosecuting
"priority" cases of violence against trade unionists.
Working with the three main labor confederations, the
Fiscalia identified 204 "priority" cases and pledged to
prosecute the perpetrators within three years. Since its
creation, the sub-unit has successfully prosecuted seven
cases, dismissed two others and transferred another to the
military justice system. The sub-unit also removed four
cases due to duplication and discovered that 13 others had
already been prosecuted. The sub-unit currently has 177
cases remaining on its priority list. The 20 cases
resolved to date have resulted in 37 convictions. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------
FOCUSING ON PRIORITY CASES
--------------------------

2. On June 1, 2006, the International Labor Organization
(ILO) brokered a tripartite agreement among the GOC,
Colombian labor leaders and private sector
representatives. The agreement included several
objectives, including improving the investigation and
prosecution of violence against unionists. (NOTE: As part
of ILO case 1787, the ILO tracks alleged violence against
unionists. Case 1787 currently contains 1300 cases.) On
July 4, 2006, the Colombian Prosecutor General, the
Ministry of Social Protection (MSP), the president of the
National Association of Colombian Industry (ANDI), and the
presidents of the three main labor confederations discussed
ways to improve the prosecution of labor violence cases.

3. The representatives agreed: (1) the Fiscalia would
form a special sub-unit within its Human Rights Unit to
prosecute cases of violence against unionists; (2) the
tripartite commission, along with the new sub-unit, would
develop a plan to obtain clear and effective results; (3)
the Fiscalia would work with the labor unions and the MSP
in investigations; (4) the three labor confederations would
provide the Fiscalia with their criteria for prioritizing
cases; (5) based on that criteria, the Fiscalia would
identify a number of "priority" cases that would be handled
by the sub-unit and would be prosecuted within three years;
and (6) the Fiscalia would continue to prosecute other
labor cases through its regional offices.

----------------------------------
ENSURING CASE NUMBERS ARE ON TRACK
----------------------------------

4. Working with the three main labor federations, the
Fiscalia and the MSP identified 204 "priority"
cases--involving 225 victims--that the special sub-unit
would investigate and prosecute. Since its creation last
October, the sub-unit has successfully prosecuted seven
cases, dismissed two others, and transferred another to the
military justice system. The Fiscalia also corrected the
list, eliminating four cases that were duplicative and 13
that had previously been successfully prosecuted. The
sub-unit currently has 177 cases remaining on its priority
list. The 20 cases prosecuted to date have resulted in 37
convictions.

----------------------------
PROGRESS SLOW BUT CONTINUING
----------------------------

5. Of the 177 remaining priority cases, the Fiscalia has
filed formal charges in 17 with another 149 under active
investigation. The remainder are largely "cold cases" that
will be difficult to investigate. In addition, while
Colombia is transitioning to a more efficient oral,
accusatory criminal justice system, most of the cases fall
under the old, inquisitorial system. Of the cases on the
Fiscalia's priority list, 27 will be prosecuted under the
new system.

6. Labor confederations have identified an additional 134
victims for which the Fiscalia has no case information.

These 134 names may be added to the priority list if the
unions provide the Fiscalia with sufficient information to
open a criminal investigation. Fiscalia Human Rights Unit
Director Sandra Castro will meet with the confederations in
the next few weeks to clarify and obtain agreement on
possible additional cases. She said the unit will not
accept any new "priority" cases beyond the 134 pending.

7. Prosecutors in the labor sub-unit told us it is
difficult to make progress in many of the cases currently
under investigation and the 134 potential other cases,
since they only have a victim's name, with no other
information about the crime. In many cases, no crime
report was ever filed with the police, leaving the
prosecutors with little or no evidence. To address these
concerns, the MSP will meet with the Vice President's
office, the Fiscalia, local unionists, and the main labor
confederations in nine cities across the country starting
in October. The meetings will review the priority list
and collect information on crimes for which the Fiscalia is
lacking police reports.

8. Table 1 below shows the disposition of cases in the
Fiscalia,s "priority" list. Post will track progress on
the list as prosecutions continue, and new cases are
added.

--------------------------------------------- -----
TABLE 1: TRACKING LABOR CASES
--------------------------------------------- -----

-------------------
FISCALIA PRIORITY
CASE LIST
-------------------
ORIGINAL
CASE- 204
LOAD

CASES
PROSECUTED
BEFORE NEW 13
UNIT CREATED

CASES
PROSECUTED 7
BY NEW UNIT

CASES
TRANSFERRED
TO MILITARY 1
JUSTICE

CASES
DISMISSED 2

CASES REMOVED DUE
TO REDUNDANCY 4

TOTAL NO.
OF ACTIVE CASES 177
REMAINING

--------------------------------------------- ------

Brownfield

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