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Cablegate: Unhchr Annual Human Rights Report Cite Progress,

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P 181407Z MAR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1987
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0118
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 6019
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 6675
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4346
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1542

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001053

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: UNHCHR ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT CITE PROGRESS,
CONTINUING CHALLENGES

1. Summary: The United Nations High Commissioner for High
Rights in Colombia's (UNHCHR) 2007 report on Colombia,s
human rights situation cites progress, while recognizing that
challenges remain. The report highlights human rights
violations stemming from Colombia's armed conflict, including
FARC and ELN abuses and new illegal armed groups'
narcotrafficking ties. It commends improved security and
attention to human rights, but calls for more GOC action on
impunity and extrajudicial killings. It supports the Justice
and Peace Law (JPL), parapolitical investigations, and
protection programs for trade unionists, human rights
workers, and at-risk individuals. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Illegal Armed Groups ) Not Homogenous but Persistent
--------------------------------------------- --------

2. The UNHCHR,s 2007 human rights report highlights human
rights violations arising from Colombia's armed conflict.
Civilian suffer from combat among security forces, illegal
armed groups, the FARC and ELN. The report says the Casanare
Rural Self-Defense Group is the only United Self-Defense
Forces of Colombia (AUC) block which remains active, but
voices concern about new illegal armed groups in Meta,
Vichada, Guaviare and Narino. The report warns against
generalizing about illegal armed groups, noting they are not
homogenous in their structure, interests, and operations.
Extensive use of the names "Aguilas Negras" or "Nueva
Generacion" does not mean that groups belong to the same
structure or coordinate their actions.

-----------------------
FARC and ELN violations
-----------------------

3. The report recognizes GOC efforts to negotiate a
humanitarian accord with the FARC, and criticizes the group's
continued involvement in massacres, murders, kidnapping,
sexual violence, child recruitment, and other terrorist acts.
The report cites FARC massacres of ten people in May and
August 2007, in addition to the murder of 11 Valle de Cauca
deputies. Systematic kidnapping and prolonged captivity
remain grave concerns. The report notes the ELN also
murdered an Awa indigenous leader in Narino and continues to
kidnap civilians. Southern Cordoba, Uraba-Choco, eastern
Antioquia, Norte de Santander, Tolima, Narino, Putumayo,
Guaviare, Vichada, and Arauca all experienced extensive FARC
and ELN violence.

----------------------------------------
Extrajudicial Killings a Serious Concern
----------------------------------------

4. The UNHCHR praises the "political will" of senior
civilian and military officials to prevent, investigate and
punish military personnel responsible for extrajudicial
killings, but says this remains a serious problem. UNHCHR
will monitor MOD directives issued in 2007 to reduce
extrajudicial killings, including the deployment of
operational legal advisors in the field, strengthening of
internal controls, and provision of extensive human rights
training. It also recognizes the Prosecutor General's
creation of a special sub-unit to investigate and prosecute
alleged extrajudicial killings. Still, the report highlights
continued military reporting of civilians as "killed in
combat" and military tampering with crime scene evidence as
on-going concerns.

---------------------------------------------
Protecting Unionists and Human Rights Workers
---------------------------------------------

5. UNHCHR supported the work of human rights defenders who
received threats in 2007. It noted that the GOC expanded its
protection program--which protects human rights activists,
journalists, and unionists--to include the displaced and JPL
victims. In 2007, one journalist was murdered, 92 received
death threats and two were kidnapped. The Ministry of Social
Protection reported 26 murders of unionists in 2007 (18 of
whom were teachers) while the trade union groups cited 34
(Note: The UNHCHR statistics are not for the full year.) The

report attributed the murders to the FARC, new illegal armed
groups or unidentified persons.

------------------------------
Judicial Progress(and Problems
------------------------------

6. The report outlines structural problems which limit
access to the legal system including under-reporting of
crimes, resource constraints, corruption, and inefficiency.
Still, it notes progress in voluntary confessions made by
demobilized paramilitary under the JPL, as well as progress
on high-profile cases such as reopening the investigation of
the 1985 Palace of Justice attack and the sentencing of
members of the security forces in cases of extrajudicial
killings. Examples include convictions in the killing of
three unionists in Arauca in August 2004 and a farmer
murdered in Antioquia in April 2004. The Fiscalia also
ordered the detention of an army captain for the San Jose de
Apartado massacre in February 2005. UNHCHR cites the Supreme
Court,s investigations of 45 members of congress, four
governors, and 18 mayors from 16 departments for paramilitary
ties as a sign of the court,s "strength and independence."
It expects the transition to an accusatory system will help
combat impunity.

-----------------------------------
Implementing Justice and Peace Law
-----------------------------------

7. UNHCHR notes that the JPL process continued with 1057
voluntary confessions and the exhumation of 1196 remains of
paramilitary victims, but voices concern that no paramilitary
has been convicted to date. The report expresses concerns
that the Prosecutor General lacks the technical skill and
resources to help the 121,547 registered victims. It calls
for renewed focus on victims for truth, justice, reparations
and guarantee of no repetition as "essential conditions" to
achieve peace and reconciliation.

-------------------------------
Displaced and Vulnerable Groups
-------------------------------

8. The report recognizes increased GOC funding to help the
displaced, but notes continuing shortfalls in assisting
vulnerable groups such as women, indigenous, and
Afro-Colombians. Still, UNHCHR acknowledges the Prosecutor
General set up a special group in its Human Rights Unit in
May 2007 to investigate cases against women and children.
The report calls the GOC,s comprehensive plan to support
endangered indigenous groups in Cesar, Risaralda, Meta, and
Guajira, a "positive step which needs to be consolidated." It
says titling of collective land ownership for Afro-Colombians
under Law 70 of 1993 should continue in consultation with
local communities.

------------------------------------------
Regional Elections: "Climate of Normality"
------------------------------------------

9. UNHCHR gives positive marks for the October 28, 2007
local elections in 32 departments which saw high voter
turnout due to a "climate of normality" on election day. It
notes, however, that 31 candidates candidates were killed,
and nine were kidnapped*-all by the FARC and illegal armed
groups. The report also praises the continuing dialogue
among the GOC, civil society, and international community as
reflected in the third meeting in the London-Cartagena
process in Bogota in November.

-------------------
Key Recommendations
-------------------

10. The UNHCHR report calls for the FARC's unconditional
release of all hostages, and urges the GOC to dismantle all
forms of illegal armed groups, provide inclusive and
comprehensive victims' reparations, fight impunity, eliminate
extrajudicial killings, continue JPL implementation, and
reduce poverty. It recognizes the GOC,s Social Protection

Network for Overcoming Extreme Poverty (JUNTOS) extended
services with a target of helping 1.5 million families, of
which 300,000 are victims of forced displacement. UNHCHR
reiterates the need to strengthen the Prosecutor General,
Inspector General, Human Rights Ombudsman, and the judiciary.
Brownfield

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