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Cablegate: Ministry of Defense Directive Takes Strong

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DE RUEHBO #8367/01 3391912
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051912Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0393
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9599
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 5679
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6370
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4195
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008367

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: MINISTRY OF DEFENSE DIRECTIVE TAKES STRONG
MEASURES AGAINST EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

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SUMMARY
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1. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) issued a directive on
November 20 ordering military commanders to give greater
weight to the demobilization or capture of illegal combatants
than to kills (bajas) in evaluating the success of military
operations. The directive addresses human rights groups'
concerns that a previous emphasis on bajas to measure results
encouraged extrajudicial killings. In January 2008, the
military will assign 120 recently trained legal advisors to
military units, including the battalion level, to advise
commanders on the legality of military operations. In 2007,
the Military Justice system has so far transferred 572
alleged human rights cases to civilian courts, up from 33 in
2006. 155 of these cases involve alleged extrajudicial
killings. End Summary

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NEW DIRECTIVE CHANGES RESULTS STANDARDS
---------------------------------------

2. The MOD's Directive 300-28, issued on November 20, orders
the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force--as well as
joint commands--to give greater weight to the demobilization
or capture of enemy combatants than to kills (bajas) in
evaluating the success of military operations. The directive
also instructs commanders to take into account economic,
political, and social factors when assessing military
operations' contribution to establishing territorial control.
To track implementation, it orders commanders to provide
monthly reports to the Chief of Joint Military Operations on
combat kills as well as progress on establishing security.
For kills, commanders are required to report the name, age,
group membership, and position within the illegal group of
the deceased.

3. Directive 300-28 responds to criticism by the local UN
High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) office and human
rights groups that the military's previous use of bajas as
the primary measure of success has promoted extrajudicial
killings by security forces. The UNHCHR will visit the seven
divisions within the Colombian Army in December to review all
reported cases of extrajudicial killings with local
commanders. The visits follow a similar UNHCHR exercise in
August.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
MOD IMPROVES LEGAL ADVICE AVAILABLE TO FIELD COMMANDERS
--------------------------------------------- ----------

4. The MOD is also improving the legal advice available to
field commanders. In January 2008, the MOD will assign 120
newly trained legal advisors to field commanders to ensure
that all military operations conform to Colombian and
international law. The MOD plans to extend such advisors to
the battalion level. In addition, starting in October 2007,
the MOD initiated--with USG support--a series of operational
law workshops for military justice personnel, military
commanders, and civilian investigators and prosecutors to
improve interagency communication and understanding of the
law of war.

-----------------------------------------
MILITARY AND CIVILIAN JUSTICE COOPERATION
-----------------------------------------

5. The MOD continues to work to improve cooperation between
civilian legal authorities and military personnel, as well as
to reduce jurisdictional disputes between civilian and
military courts. On November 2, the MOD issued Directive 19
which reiterates an earlier order to military commanders to
exhaust all available resources to help civilian
investigators to arrive at the scene of any combat deaths. It
also recognizes that civilians should serve as primary
evidence collectors. Lastly, Directive 19 makes military
commanders responsible for the actions of their soldiers, and
provides for disciplinary action if any commander is involved
in a cover-up of an extrajudicial killing.

6. The MOD is also working with the Military Justice system
to facilitate the transfer of cases involving alleged human
rights violations from military to civilian courts. In 2005
and 2006, the military courts transferred seven cases and 33
cases to the civilian system respectively. In contrast, so

far in 2007 the military courts have transferred 572 cases,
155 of which involve alleged homicides. The increase
reflects the effort of Military Justice Director Luz Marin
Gil, as well as the impact of the high-level committee set up
in June under Directive 10 to address the problem of
extrajudicial killings.
Nichols

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