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Cablegate: Unhcr Coaches Colmil in Protecting Civilians

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0335 0281647
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281647Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1117
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9848
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JAN LIMA 5845
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6519
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP ADMIN/CHAIRS//

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000335

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PTER PHUM MARR CO PREF
SUBJECT: UNHCR COACHES COLMIL IN PROTECTING CIVILIANS


-------
Summary
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1. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
is offering nationwide workshops with Colombian military and
police to reinforce awareness of their duty to protect
civilians and and avert displacement. The seminars present
core principles of humanitarian law, followed by discussion
on how security forces should (or should not) treat
civilians, and conclude with a case study simulating
real-life conflict situations. The UNHCR says Colombia's
human rights framework is world class, but the grass-roots
training is needed to address gaps in implementation. End
Summary.

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Grass-Roots Guidance on IDPs
----------------------------

2. The UNHCR has begun a series of workshops with Colombian
military and police to familiarize them with their duty to
protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) and avert
displacement. With the support of the Defense Ministry and
Armed Service chiefs, 38 half-day seminars led by UNHCR's
Deputy Director Roberto Mignone are scheduled for the first
half of 2008 in hotspots where violence and displacement far
exceed national averages. Three sessions have been held to
date in San Jose (Guaviare), and Granada and Villavicencio
(Meta). Others are planned for Antioquia, Norte.del
Santander, Narino, and Putumayo departments, among others.
The Army is the main audience, but the Marines and Police are
also included. Mignone says Colombia is a world role model
in its IDP related laws and policies, but there remains much
room for improvement in implementation. The UNHCR has
previously advised the GOC on policy, but is for the first
time providing direct field training.

-----------------------------
Core Precepts, and Case Study
-----------------------------

3. The workshops include an opening presentation of core
principles of humanitarian law, followed by a question and
answer dialogue on how security forces should (or should not)
treat civilians -- e.g. executing operations so as to
minimize collateral damage, pre-stocking supplies when
displacement is foreseen, providing special attention to
Afro-Colombians and indigenous, not involving civilians in
the conflict, and not employing children as informers. A
primary goal is to avoid stigmatization of the population in
areas of FARC concentration. In one session, a participant
said all families in some areas are suspect since each gave a
son to the FARC. Mignone said this made the families
victims, not collaborators. He added that forced FARC
recruitment is a primary cause of displacement. The session
culminates in a case study scenario that raises 40 specific
questions involving civilian protection.

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UNHCR: Lessons Learned
----------------------

4. Mignone said the first three seminars confirmed the need
for more of this type of training. Only two of the 240
participants were aware of Defense Ministry directives on
civilian protection, showing the Ministry's policies are not
being absorbed by forces in the field. This may reflect the
rapid expansion of the security forces over the last five
years, and highlights the need for continued training to help
the military internalize human rights standards. UNHCR
seminars, complementary to and coordinated with field
trainings by the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC), should help overcome gaps at the grass roots.
Mignone hopes the workshops will also help his local offices
to find a more open reception when contacting military units
on protection issues.

Brownfield

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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