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Cablegate: Colombia Makes Major Advances On Human Rights In

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0244/01 0172229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 172229Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1020
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7997
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9790
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN 9180
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5792
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1094
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6501
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4269
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000244

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL PTER KJUS CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA MAKES MAJOR ADVANCES ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN
2007

-------
Summary
-------

1. In 2007, Colombia made significant progress in
implementing the Justice and Peace Law (JPL), exposing and
punishing politicians tied to paramilitaries, and resolving
longstanding human rights cases. Twenty-five paramilitary
leaders remained in jail. JPL testimony helped clarify 3000
crimes, including 700 homicides, and revealed the location of
1009 mass graves containing 1196 victims. The Supreme Court
and Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia)--in many cases due
to JPL testimony--linked 52 legislators, 19 governors and 11
mayors to the paramilitaries. Four have been convicted and
30 are in jail. The Fiscalia obtained verdicts in several key
human rights cases, including the 2004 murder of three
unionists in Arauca and the Santo Domingo bombing case.
Challenges remain--including obtaining the first JPL guilty
pleas, investigating military and business ties to the
paramilitaries, and making reparations to victims--but the
GOC's infusion of new resources to the Fiscalia should ensure
further advances in 2008. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------
Achievements in Justice and Peace Law, Para Political Scandal
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

2. In 2007, the JPL process led to important advances in
exposing paramilitary crimes and holding their leaders
accountable. 25 key paramilitary leaders, including Salvador
Mancuso, Carlos Jimenez ("Macaco"), Rodrigo Tovar Pupo
("Jorge 40"), and Diego Murillo ("Don Berna")--remained in
jail. Over 1000 former paramilitaries gave voluntary
confessions (versiones libres), shedding light on over 3000
crimes including 700 homicides. JPL testimony also led to the
exhumation of 1196 human remains from 1009 mass graves. The
Supreme Court and the Fiscalia--exploiting the improved
security created by the paramilitary demobilization as well
as JPL evidence-- have implicated 52 congressmen, 19 mayors,
and eleven governors so far in the parapolitical scandal.
Congressman Erik Morris of Sucre became the first sitting
Congressman to be convicted and sentenced on December 19,
receiving a six year sentence and a $480,000 fine. Four other
politicians have also been convicted, and thirty others are
in preventive detention.

3. The Fiscalia's Justice and Peace Unit has also referred
information derived from JPL confessions to other Fiscalia
units, leading to the investigation of businessmen and
military with alleged paramilitary ties. On December 7, the
Fiscalia announced that it is investigating four banana
companies (Proban, Uniban, Sunisa-Del Monte and Chiquita
International), and issued an arrest warrant for banana
businessman Raul Hasbun. The Fiscalia is taking legal action
against African palm oil firms accused of working with
paramilitaries to usurp land from Afro-Colombians in Uraba,
and continues to investigate ranchers accused of
collaborating with paramilitaries in Sucre department.
Lastly, the Fiscalia is reviewing JPL testimony by former
paramilitaries Ever Veloza and Salvador Mancuso implicating
retired Army General Rito Alejo del Rio and other officers in
the Mapiripan massacre and other paramilitary atrocities.

------------------------------------
Increased Protection for JPL Victims
------------------------------------

4. The GOC also acted to better protect the almost 90,000
victims who have denounced paramilitary crimes or sought
redress under the JPL process. Decree 3570, issued by the
Ministry of Interior and Justice (MOIJ) on September 18,
created an integrated protection program involving the
Colombian National Police (CNP), the MOIJ's protection
program, and Fiscalia's Witness Protection Program. Under
the decree, the CNP will serve as the first responder to
threats; the MOIJ program will protect victims' advocates or
other vulnerable individuals; and the Fiscalia will provide
security for witnesses. CNP Commander General Naranjo told
us the CNP received over $8.5 million in additional funding
to protect 36 municipalities with a large number of at-risk

victims. The CNP will provide perimeter security, conduct
community liaison with local residents, and identify threats.
USG funding for FY 2008 will enable us to work with the
Fiscalia to strengthen its Witness Protection Program.

--------------------------------
Prosecuting Labor Violence Cases
--------------------------------

5. The Fiscalia has resolved 59 cases of violence against
labor union members, resulting in the sentencing of 126
individuals, since 2001. Eleven of the cases, leading to 20
convictions, were prosecuted by the special sub-unit set up
by the Fiscalia in September 2006 to investigate and
prosecute labor crimes. The courts found the victim's union
membership was the motive in only nine, or 15 percent, of the
cases. Most cases involved theft or domestic disputes. In
August, a Bogota court sentenced four Colombian soldiers to
40 years each for murdering three union leaders in Saravena
(Arauca department) in August 2004. In 2007, the MOIJ's $34
million Protection Program helped protect more than 6,900
human rights activists, journalists, politicians, and other
threatened individuals, including 1,720 unionists. This
program will continue in 2008.

-------------------------------------------
Human Rights Convictions and Investigations
-------------------------------------------

6. In 2007, the Fiscalia and Supreme Court obtained
convictions in several key human rights cases awaiting
judgment, some for several years. In October, two pilots and
a technician were sentenced to six years under house arrest
on manslaughter charges stemming from the accidental bombing
of a community in Tame (Arauca), which killed 17 people
during a 1998 operation against the FARC. In September, the
Supreme Court sentenced an officer to 40 years for the crime
of omission in the La Gabarra massacre of 1999. The Fiscalia
also obtained the conviction of four soldiers for the murder
of Jose Valencia Morales in Marinilla (Antioquia department)
in 2004 on September 18. On November 22, the Fiscalia
ordered the detention of Army Captain Guillermo Gordillo for
his alleged participation in the massacre of eight civilians
near San Jose de Apartado in February 2005.

7. The Fiscalia and Inspector General's Office (Procuraduria)
also stepped up investigations of extrajudicial killings
committed by security forces. In November, the Fiscalia set
up a special sub-unit within its Human Rights Unit to
investigate extrajudicial killings. The Human Rights
Fiscalia also sent special prosecutorial teams to Medellin
and Villavicencio to assist in on-going extrajudicial killing
investigations, as well as to identify new cases. The
Medellin commission has identified 160 alleged killings in
Antioquia and 34 in Cordoba. The Fiscalia also improved
communications with the Military Criminal Justice system,
leading to the transfer of 572 alleged human rights
cases--including 155 extrajudicial killings--from the
military to civilian courts. The Procuraduria also opened
separate, disciplinary investigations of 706 alleged
extrajudicial killings, with almost 1100 victims, that
occurred between March 2002 and August 31, 2007. The
investigations involve 648 Army personnel, 40 police, and 18
marines.

8. In addition, after a year long trial, the "Jamundi" case
is coming to a conclusion. This case involves the accusation
that six military personnel murdered a Colombian civilian and
ten members of an elite Colombian National Police narcotics
unit in the process of executing a search warrant. Closing
arguments are being presented and a verdict is expected by
the end of January.

--------------------------------------------- ------
2008 Forecast: More Resources to Counter Challenges
--------------------------------------------- ------

9. The GOC recognizes the Fiscalia will need additional
resources to obtain the first JPL sentences, deepen its
investigations of paramilitary links to military and economic

interests, and continue to prosecute major human rights
cases. The GOC's 2008 budget provides a $40 million increase
for the Fiscalia's Justice and Peace and Human Rights Units,
and Uribe will also soon sign a decree creating over 1000 new
positions in the Fiscalia. The new positions include 175
prosecutors, 200 criminal investigators and numerous
administrative assistants. and will also focus on the these
units. The Fiscalia will attempt to expedite filling of these
positions through internal hiring.

10. The GOC also understands that while the investigative
phase of the JPL process is advancing, the inherent slowness
of the judicial process has delayed the payment of
reparations to the victims of paramilitaries. To date, few
victims have received compensation beyond token, collective
reparations. Hence, the GOC announced in November that it is
considering a proposal by the National Commission of
Reparations and Reconciliation (CNRR) to change the
reparations process from the current judicial process to an
administrative process. The administrative processing of
victims would include a mix of symbolic and monetary
reparations. The GOC has already begun an interagency
consultative process on the CNRR proposal, and hopes to
devise a new program by mid-year.
Brownfield

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