Search

 

Cablegate: July Human Rights Update: National Murder Rates

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2782/01 2131606
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311606Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3924
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0767
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG LIMA 6406
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7099
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4511
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002782

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KJUS PGOV PHUM ELAB SMIG CO
SUBJECT: JULY HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE: NATIONAL MURDER RATES
DOWN, PROGRESS ON LABOR AND JUSTICE AND PEACE CASES

REF: BOGOTA 528

--------
SUMMARY
--------

1. GOC statistics show 8030 homicides occurred nationwide
from January to June, down from 8903 during the same period
in 2007. Kidnappings fell from 281 during the first semester
of 2007 to 242 during the same period in 2008. The National
Unionist College reports 32 union members have been killed
thus far in 2008; GOC statistics show 27. Labor unions claim
police involvement in the murder of Bogota public employees
union leader Guillermo Rivera. We have raised the Rivera
case with the Colombian National Police (CNP), the Prosecutor
General's Office (Fiscalia,) Bogota city officials, and the
Presidential Human Rights Program. Fiscalia Justice and
Peace Law unit director Luis Gonzalez said testimony provided
by demobilized paramilitaries has clarified over 9000 crimes
to date. Discussions continue between the Defense Ministry
and a Cofan indigenous community on the construction of a
military base in Putumayo. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------
OVERALL VIOLENCE STATISTICS
CONTINUE DOWNWARD TREND
---------------------------

2. In the first six months of 2008, the GOC registered 8030
homicides, down from 8903 during the same period last year
The sharpest fall occurred in Santander department with a 69%
decline (from 242 in the first six months of 2007 to 75 in
the same time frame in 2008) and Buenaventura with a 46%
decline (204 to 110). Still, some departments saw a spike in
violence due to FARC activity, criminal groups, and
narcotrafficking bands, including Cordoba (153 to 281, an 84%
increase) and Choco (32 to 67, a 109% increase). Murder
rates also remained high in Valle de Cauca, Risaralda,
Putumayo, and Meta departments. Murders in Bogota fell from
881 during the first semester of 2007 to 861 during the same
period this year.

3. Kidnappings are also down nationally, dropping from 281
during the first six months of 2007 to 242 during the same
period in 2008. Departments where kidnapping remains a
serious problem include Antioquia (40), Meta (25), Tolima
(25) and Bogota (21).

--------------------------------------
LABOR VIOLENCE CONTINUES BUT IMPROVING
--------------------------------------

4. The National Unionist College (ENS) has registered 32
murders of unionists and peasant leaders so far in 2008; the
Ministry of Social Protection (MSP) reports 28 as of the end
of July. The difference in numbers largely reflects MSP's
exclusion of peasant group members, because they lack the
employer-employee relationship required to register with the
MSP as unionists. In one case, the MSP and ENS disagree over
whether or not a murdered teacher belonged to a union. Since
2001, the Fiscalia has prosecuted 94 cases of violence
against unionists, leading to the conviction of 188
individuals. 125 of the individual convicted are in jail,
with 63 having been convicted in abstentia. The special
labor sub-unit within the Fiscalia has resolved 50 cases,
resulting in the conviction of 90 individuals, since its
creation in October 2006.

5. Bogota municipal employees union President Guillermo
Rivera Fuquene disappeared on April 22 in Bogota. Local
authorities found his mutilated body 134 miles from Bogota on
April 24, but did not identify and bury his remains until
July 17. The GOC determined the cause of death as
strangulation, but Rivera's family and the Confederation of
Colombian Workers (CTC) report the body also showed signs of
torture. A witness told the CTC that Rivera was taken by
municipal police dressed in civilian clothes and placed in a
patrol car. The witness refuses to cooperate with the
Fiscalia and has reportedly gone into hiding, though CTC
claims she is missing. CTC officials speculate that Rivera
was killed due to his "militant" work with the Union
Patriotica and the Communist Party. Post has raised the case
with the CNP, Fiscalia, Bogota municipal authorities, and the
Presidential Office on Human Rights. GOC officials say they
have no evidence of police involvement. The case remains
under investigation.


6. The Superior Judicial Council (Consejo Superior de la
Judicatura) announced that special labor judge positions
hearing labor violence cases would become permanent.
Previously, they were temporary, six-month positions. The
change responds in part to labor union criticism after the
independent Appellate Court decided not to reappoint one of
the three previous temporary labor judges, Jose Nirio
Sanchez, in January 2008 (reftel).

-------------------------------------
PROGRESS IN JUSTICE AND PEACE PROCESS
-------------------------------------

7. Fiscalia Justice and Peace (JPL) Unit director Luis
Gonzalez said the unit has heard 1500 voluntary confessions
(version libres) so far. leading to the clarification of over
9000 crimes (including 80 murders of trade unionists) and the
exhumation of over 1500 remains. He said the GOC's
extradition of fourteen paramilitary leaders to the United
States in May has not hurt the JPL process. In fact, the
extraditions have helped demobilized participants understand
the benefits of cooperating with the Fiscalia. The unit has
scheduled 17 additional versiones libres in the coming
months, and 59 prosecutors are now working full time on the
follow-up investigations.

8. Gonzalez said JPL testimony has been especially helpful
in clarifying the murders of members of the leftist political
party Union Patriotica in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Former paramilitary leader Ever Veloza Garcia (alias HH)
alone has revealed information identifying 400 mass graves,
over 50 of which have been unearthed. Veloza also recently
submitted a memory stick, allegedly belonging to former
United Self Defense of Colombia leader Carlos Castano, into
evidence. The Fiscalia's Technical Investigative Corps (CTI)
is reviewing the stick. We have requested Veloza's
extradition, which is being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

------------------
MOD-COFAN DIALOGUE
------------------

9. Discussions continue between the Defense Ministry (MOD)
and a Cofan indigenous community on the construction of a
military base in Putumayo. On July 21, the MOD responded to
a Cofan community request for information on the
environmental and security impact of the base on the
community. The community rejected the MOD's proposal to hold
a meeting on July 29, citing the need for more time to assess
the impact studies. The Cofan plan to hire consultants to
review the documents and suggested a meeting with the MOD in
September. Specific Cofan concerns center on the number of
troops in the area, impact on water systems (sewer drainage,
subsurface water), and a clearer definition of the land area
involved.

----------------------------------
ARRESTS IN TRAFFICKING OF PERSONS
----------------------------------

10. On June 28, the GOC announced that two men had been
arrested and will be tried for the illegal transportation of
25 Chinese citizens, including three minors, through
Colombia. The men were arrested in Buenaventura while
readying a ship to transport the Chinese to Panama en route
to the United States. The Chinese originally entered
Colombia illegally through Ecuador, part of a growing number
of illegal Chinese being trafficked through South and Central
America to the United States. This year, Department of
Administrative Security (DAS) regional offices in Valle de
Cauca have deported 47 Chinese that paid between 20,000 and
30,000 dollars to be transported to the United States. Under
Article 188 of Colombia's Criminal Procedure Code, the two
men face sentences of up to 15 years and substantial fines.
The GOC continues to sensitize officers and investigative
units to focus on the Chinese trafficking problem.
BROWNFIELD

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC