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Cablegate: G-24 Conference On Colombia Forum Fosters Dialogue

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P 062306Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0411
INFO RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES PRIORITY 2108
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9632
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9099
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5688
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1784
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 2448
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1155
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6376
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0371
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4198
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1878
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1522

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008390

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV PTER OFDP AR CA SW CO
SUBJECT: G-24 CONFERENCE ON COLOMBIA FORUM FOSTERS DIALOGUE
WITH CIVIL SOCIETY AND DONORS

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Summary
-------

1. The international community expressed political support
for the GOC at the G-24 Third International Conference on
Colombia on November 29-December 1. The joint G-24 Bogota
declaration recognized GOC advances on human rights and
sustainable development, stressed the international
commitment to support GOC efforts to fight narcotrafficking,
and called for more GOC action to against impunity. Local
civil society groups urged better implementation of the
Justice and Peace Law and voiced concern about human rights
abuses and victims' rights. International civil society
groups criticized spray programs for allegedly harming the
health of local communities. End Summary.

----------------------------
Third Conference on Colombia
----------------------------

2. Over 400 representatives from 35 countries participated in
the Group of 24 (G-24) Third International Conference on
Colombia on November 29-December 1 in Bogota. Building upon
conferences in London in 2003 and Cartagena in 2005,
delegates from international organizations, local civil
society groups, the GOC and donor countries focused on four
themes (poverty, victims, peace and human rights, democracy)
to coordinate international assistance to Colombia. The U.S.
head of delegation, Paul Bonicelli, USAID Assistant
Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, welcomed
robust dialogue among the GOC, civil society and the
international community, and praised GOC progress on human
rights. He also clarified that Plan Colombia is not solely
about military aid, noting USG programs to strengthen
democratic institutions and assist victims, indigenous, Afro
Colombians, and displaces persons.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Bogota Declaration Recognizes Advances and Challenges
--------------------------------------------- --------

3. The Bogota Declaration, signed by Vice President Santos
and the Troika Ambassadors (Argentina, Canada and Sweden),
reaffirmed support for the tripartite dialogue and the
increased space for civil society participation. Signatories
affirmed support for the GOC in its efforts to strengthen
democracy and implement human rights measures. The statement
also showed solidarity in the global fight on terrorism,
drugs and corruption. The declaration demanded armed illegal
groups respect human rights and release all hostages, and
condemned the killings of the kidnapped Colombian Congressmen
this summer. It underscored GOC commitment to protecting and
guaranteeing the rights of journalists, union workers and
human rights defenders. It also encouraged the investigation
of extrajudicial killings and recognized the important role
of the Prosecutor General's Office and the Supreme Court in
combating impunity.

---------------------------------
GOC: Progress and Ongoing Efforts
---------------------------------

4. President Uribe, Vice President Santos, Foreign Minister
Araujo and other cabinet members stressed the need for
interagency coordination to address concerns raised by civil
society and donor countries. Uribe highlighted advances in
the "recovery of freedom" from the FARC and paramilitaries
through his democratic security policies. He said
transparency is boosting confidence and respect for human
rights. He would continue to pursue policies promoting social
cohesion and economic prosperity. The Vice President's
Director of Human Rights, Carlos Franco, spoke about
balancing justice and peace, noting that over 84,000 victims
have registered under the JPL and that versiones libres have
led to the discovery of numerous remains and mass graves.
National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation
Director Eduardo Pizarro said the GOC will soon issue an
administrative reparation program to ensure more timely
relief for victims. Luis Alfonso Hoyos, Presidential
Director of Accion Social, also outlined socio-economic
achievements and outreach to local communities.

-----------------------------
Civil Society Voices Concerns
-----------------------------

5. In its 21-point declaration, Colombian civil society
groups called for more support for victims and reparations,
as well as for greater victim participation in the JPL. While
critical of the GOC, civil society debate throughout the
conference was moderate and constructive. The declaration
urged the GOC to respect the independence of the judicial
branch, particularly in the para-political investigations.
The declaration expressed concern about the current
"humanitarian crisis" in Colombia, including displacement,
selective murders and extrajudicial killings. It did not
explicitly refer to the FARC, but called for the release of
all hostages held by armed groups. It strongly rejected all
"terrorist actions," Lastly, it urged the GOC better
integrate environmental protection, respect for collective
territorial rights, and more alternative economic
opportunities into its counternarcotics policy.

6. The international civil society declaration was more
critical, accusing the GOC of allotting more resources to
demobilized paramilitary than victims. In reference to the
Chiquita case, it urged the GOC to take political and legal
action against multinational companies that made payments to
paramilitary or other armed groups. The statement criticized
the GOC's Center for Coordination of Integral Action (CCAI),
accusing it of stressing military-oriented programs that
result in more violence for local communities. It called
aerial and manual fumigation "weak and marginal" in the
effort to stem illegal drugs. The declaration reaffirmed the
necessity of the GOC maintaining political dialogue with the
FARC, but did not criticize FARC kidnappings and crimes.
Vice President Santos rebuked the group for this omission,
asking why the statement did not condemn the FARC given the
newly released photos of FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt.

7. In roundtable's between the civil society and the
international community, civil society leaders said
para-political ties and "incomplete demobilization" threaten
democracy. Some groups recognized the fall in murders in
recent years and the increased capacity of the Fiscalia and
courts, but they also called for more concrete action to
improve the human rights situation. Delegates also voiced
opposition to fumigation in Putumayo, maintaining that local
communities' health and economy are adversely affected.
Father Hector Fabio Henao and other civil society leaders
agreed that, although differences in opinion remain, events
such as this provide a useful forum for debate.
Nichols

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