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Cablegate: Quarterly Human Rights Consultations Focus On

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1056/01 0781608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181608Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1992
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8101
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0121
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR 9331
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6022
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6678
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4349
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 001056

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS CO
SUBJECT: QUARTERLY HUMAN RIGHTS CONSULTATIONS FOCUS ON
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

1. Summary: At the suggestion of the Colombian Commission of
Jurists, Post's quarterly consultations with human rights
groups focused on alleged extrajudicial executions (EJEs) by
security forces. Citing a report released last October by a
coalition of human rights groups, the participants said there
were 236 alleged extrajudicial killings from July 2006 to
June 2007, up from 198 the previous year. They claimed
arbitrary detentions frequently preceded such killings, and
said the GOC's emphasis on results was too often interpreted
by military officials to mean body count. They urged the GOC
to strengthen the Prosecutor General office's (Fiscalia's)
capacity to investigate combat deaths, and said all such
cases should be heard in civilian, rather than military,
courts. Several participants acknowledged recent Defense
Ministry directives to address the issue, but called for more
concrete action. End Summary.

2. On March 12, Post held its quarterly consultations with
human rights groups, with a special focus on EJEs. Attendees
included Luis Evelis Andrade from the National Indigenous
Organization of Colombia (ONIC), Tito Augusto Gaitan from the
Association for Alternative Social Policy (MINGA), Mario
Gomez from the Restrepo Barco Foundation, Jahel Quiroga from
Reiniciar, Diana Murcia from the Collective Corporation of
Lawyers, Agustin Jimenez from the Solidarity Committee of
Political Prisoners, Alberto Yepez from the Coordination of
Colombia, Europe and the U.S. (CCEU), Father Alberto Franco
from Justicia Y Paz, and Camilo Mejia of the Colombian
Commission of Jurists (CCJ). USAID and DOJ officials also
participated.

------------------
Comparing EJE data
------------------

3. Mejia said a study by a human rights coalition released
last October found that between July 2006 and June 2007, the
public forces committed 236 alleged extrajudicial killings,
up from 198 during the same period in 2005-2006. So far this
year, CCJ has identified 13 cases. He said the GOC's
democratic security policy should not be used to justify
attacks against civilians, and complained the policy's
emphasis on results was often interpreted by commanders to
mean body count. ONIC said there were 43 EJEs against
indigenous in 2007, with 12 so far this year.

4. Yepez of CCEU said his group reported 111 killings
between January-December 2007, with 13 more so far this year.
He noted the highest number of reported cases occurred in
Norte de Santander (15), followed by Meta (12), Catatumbo
(9), Putumayo (8), and Arauca (5). Units implicated included
the 13th Brigade's 25th battalion, the 6th Brigade, the 16th
Brigade and the 15th Mobile Brigade. Yepez claimed Army
Gaula (anti-kidnapping units) are also a concern. He
complained that relative of victims often do not file
complaints due to military threats. Yepes added that
arbitrary detentions frequently precede extrajudicial
killings.

5. Father Franco said there is stigmatism of civilians in
"guerrilla zones" where military forces accuse locals of
sympathizing with the FARC. He echoed charges that military
units kill civilians, subsequently dressing them in guerilla
uniforms and claiming them as killed in action. Franco said
the GOC's democratic security policy encourages the military
to view civilians in rural areas with suspicion, leading them
to target community leaders.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Deciding Jurisdiction: Military or Civilian Court?
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. Participants said the Fiscalia lacks the logistical
capacity to investigate the scenes of combat deaths, often
authorizing the military to conduct the preliminary
investigation in its place. The Fiscalia's criminal
investigative unit (CTI) needs more personnel and resources.
MINGA's Tito said that when the Fiscalia investigates,
prosecutors are often pressured by the military to transfer
the case to the military justice system. Restrepo Barco
representative Mario Gomez referred to recent MOD directives

focusing on addressing EJEs, noting that in 2007, more
extrajudicial killings were handled in the civilian than
military courts. The MOD also issued an order instructing
military commanders to reward demobilizations, captures and
kills in that order.

7. Other participants agreed the MOD measures were positive
and thanked the USG for its role in communicating concerns to
the GOC. Still, they said the MOD's initiatives are
insufficient. Quiroga of Reiniciar said positive trends are
not due to military directives but reflect pressure from
human rights groups. Tito reiterated that the GOC needs to
do more to strengthen the judicial process. He said the
military's emphasis on captures over kills should help in
prevention, but called for greater access for human rights
groups to investigative documents in the MOD's possession.
Whoever has custody over evidence is the "key driver" in the
judicial process. Participants debated whether all EJE cases
should be moved to Bogota to avoid pressure from local
commanders or whether more resources should be dedicated to
support regional prosecutors. Post encouraged participants
to make policy concrete recommendations to the USG, as well
as to GOC authorities, to address this issue.
Brownfield

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