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Cablegate: Colombia Response to 2008 Iagga Report

VZCZCXYZ0273
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #0918/01 0672355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 072355Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1827

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000918

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PASS TO DIANE KOHN, INL/C/P

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCOR KCRM CO
SUBJECT: COLOMBIA RESPONSE TO 2008 IAGGA REPORT

REF: SECSTATE 18836

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SUMMARY
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1. The GOC continues to make progress on fighting corruption
and increasing accountability and transparency. In the past
two years, the GOC took significant steps to reform its
criminal justice system, increase transparency in public
expenditure, modernize public procurement, and ensure
accountability in government programs. When USG funding of
an effective public enterprise internal audit system ended,
the GOC assumed financial responsibility of the program. The
USG supported criminal justice reform, anti-corruption
training for law enforcement personnel, and the development
of citizens, groups. END SUMMARY

---------------------------
GOC Anti-Corruption Efforts
---------------------------

2. The GOC continues to make progress in its anti-corruption
efforts. On January 1, 2008, the GOC completed its
multi-year transition from a criminal justice system based on
a cumbersome, written accusatory system to an oral accusatory
system. The new system ensures greater transparency through
public court proceedings and trials, as well as greater
accountability of justice sector officials. The new system
is also more efficient, producing a 75 percent reduction in
the time needed to resolve criminal cases and a 60 percent
conviction rate, up from three percent under the old system.

3. In 2007, the GOC launched a "Visible Audits Program"
aimed at involving beneficiaries and local governments in the
review of public investments in health, potable water,
education and housing. More than 150 public meetings were
held throughout the country last year, and a similar number
is planned for 2008. This initiative has already proven
successful in improving transparency and efficiency of GOC
investments and in identifying specific cases of corruption.
For example, local government and civil society engagement
prompted the completion of a housing project in Cordoba
department, where homes were finally delivered to vulnerable
groups after a construction delay of three years.

4. The GOC modernized the public procurement
process--eliminating exemptions to open and full
competition--and incorporated public audiences in the award
process. Today, the Unified Contracting Portal (Portal Unico
de Contracion) website contains detailed information on all
scheduled government bids.

5. The GOC assumed control of an internal control program
for public entities after USG funding ended in 2006. The
program has been implemented in 80 national entities and 22
sub-national entities. The GOC issued presidential
directives to ensure the effective implementation of the
internal control's standards and to provide technical
assistance to all public entities.

6. The GOC annually publishes the approved national budget
and amendments made during the fiscal year online. The
published data include regular detailed updates of revenues
and expenditures.

7. The GOC continues to proceed with other measures to
promote transparency, including its announcement to join the
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in March
2007 and partially privatizing the state-owned hydrocarbons
company, Ecopetrol. In addition to these national measures,
the central government has supported efforts to increase
accountability at the departmental and municipal levels where
a significant portion of revenues are transferred under
constitutional mandate.

------------------------------
USG Anti-Corruption Assistance
------------------------------

8. The USG is a strong supporter of Colombia's
anti-corruption and transparency efforts. The primary USG
agencies implementing programs remain USAID and DOJ.

9. The USG provided training, technical assistance,
equipment and operating funds to the Colombian justice sector
to facilitate the implementation of the new oral accusatory
system. Over the past three years, the USG trained over
6,000 prosecutors, 20,000 investigators, 2,000 judges, 1,000
forensic experts, and 1,300 public defenders. Additionally,
the USG constructed or refurbished four public defender
offices, helped establish a public defender training school,
and installed six virtual courtrooms in isolated rural areas.


10. In FY2007, the USG conducted 24 anti-corruption seminars
for 621 Colombian law enforcement personnel throughout the
country. Each seminar included participants from the
Colombian National Police, Department of Administrative
Security, and the Prosecutor General's Office. Eleven
seminars addressed transparency and anti-corruption topics,
including how to develop and implement anti-corruption
strategies. Seven seminars taught leadership skills and
initiatives to institute internal supervisory controls to
reduce corrupt practices and behavior by subordinates. Six
seminars focused on conflict negotiation and resolution, and
were designed to arm supervisors with the skills to
communicate effectively with subordinates and the public.

11. The USG provided micro-grants to 500 citizen oversight
groups. Approximately 70 percent of the groups continued
performing citizen oversight initiatives with either their
own resources or private sector funding after USG assistance
was suspended in 2006.

----------------------
USG Diplomatic Efforts
----------------------

12. Where appropriate, the USG continues to promote
anti-corruption and transparency in its diplomatic
interactions, including encouraging the GOC to join EITI.
Brownfield

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