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Cablegate: Quarterly Human Rights Certification Consultations

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #4547/01 3582145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 232145Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6264
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1456
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC LIMA 6851
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 2813
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 7548
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4742
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 004547

SIPDIS

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

REF: A. BOGOTA 4485
B. BOGOTA 4457

1. Summary. Post's quarterly consultations with human
rights groups focused on recent violence against indigenous
communities and extrajudicial killings. Participants
highlighted the recent killing of Edwin Legarda--husband of
Cauca indigenous leader Aida Quilcue--by military forces as
evidence of violations of some certification criteria. The
representative of Afro-Colombian group CIMARRON told us the
military must do more to boost the number of Afro-Colombian
officers in the military. The group also criticized the
GOC's slow progress in investigating extrajudicial killings
(EJEs) by security forces, adding that reports of secret
military Directive 29 of 2005 raised questions about 2008
progress generated by new directives and reforms.
Participants acknowledged work by the GOC (and Embassy
efforts) to transfer cases from the military justice system
to civilian judicial authorities, and said they remain eager
to continue their dialogue with the Embassy. End Summary.

2. On December 19, post hosted our quarterly consultations
with human rights groups. As agreed previously with the
groups, the discussion focused on issues dealing with general
criteria for the Human Rights Certification process.
Attendees included: Alberto Yepes of the Coordinacion
Colombia-Europa Estados Unidos (CCEEU), Juan de Dios Mosquera
of the Movimiento Nacional por los Derechos Humanos de las
Comunidades Afrocolombianas (CIMARRON), Fatima Esparza of the
Comision Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ), and Gisel Paternina of
the Comision de Solidaridad de Presios Politicos (CSPP).
----------------------
DEATH OF EDWIN LEGARDA
----------------------

3. Participants expressed concern over the December 16
killing of Edwin Legarda (the husband of Cauca indigenous
leader Aida Quilcue) by the military in Cauca (reftels).
Alberto Yepes of CCEEU claimed the killing was deliberate,
and said Legarda's car was well known in the region. He
claimed soldiers had fired seventeen shots at the vehicle.
Yepes said the killing came less than a week after Vice
President Francisco Santos offered an apology for illegal
killings by military forces to the UN Human Rights Commission
in Geneva, and was evidence that the GOC was reneging on
their promises. Yepes questioned whether the order to shoot
at the vehicle came from a commander, and asked
(rhetorically) whether operational legal advisors had signed
off on the orders. Yepes claimed that 68 indigenous had been
killed in 2008, 29 more than the previous year, and
questioned whether newly announced reforms would have an
impact on violence against indigenous. The killing raised
questions as to whether the USG could certify the military on
human rights, he added.

---------------------------- ---------------
EXCLUSION OF AFRO-COLOMBIANS IN THE MILITARY
---------------------------- ---------------

4. Juan de Dios Mosquera of CIMARRON said that racial
exclusion within the Ministry of Defense (MOD) remained a
serious problem, and questioned why Afro-Colombian officers
were being passed over for promotion. Mosquera said that at
a November 10 officer graduation and promotion ceremony, 42
lieutenants and 58 captains graduated--none Afro-Colombian.
He added that of the 36 majors who graduated, two were
Afro-Colombians; those two entered the military in a special
program in 1996 designed to increase Afro-Colombian
participation. Of the 12 officers who entered the program,
six were now majors, but lagged behind their peers in terms
of time to promotion. Mosquera stressed that the special
program had not been repeated since 1996, and said that the
military needed to address the situation.

----------------------
EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS
----------------------

5. Participants criticized the GOC's slow progress in
investigating extrajudicial killings (EJEs) by security
forces, and said that recently published press reports of a


classified MOD directive, (Directive 29 - of 2005) raised
questions as to whether any progress had been made through
other recent directives and reforms. Yepes claimed that
human rights groups registered 535 EJEs between January
2007-June 2008. UN officials have told us separately that
their numbers are lower for the same period, though declined
to release specific figures. Yepes said the Soacha cases
were not unique, and that the military used EJEs to increase
enemy killed in combat numbers. Yepes added that Directive
29 gave the military tacit permission to commit EJEs through
a system of monetary incentives to emphasize body count.
Fatima Esparza of CCJ said the promotion of new Army
Commander General Oscar Gonzalez Pena represented an example
of an officer promoted based on body count--with no
consideration for human rights. Participants said that the
GOC must publicly repudiate Directive 29 if it expects to be
taken seriously on the issue of EJEs. The group acknowledged
that the firing of 27 officers in connection to the Soacha
case was a positive development and starting point.

6. Gisel Paternina of CSPP raised concerns about military
justice involvement in the investigations of EJEs. We
highlighted recent work with the MOD and the Prosecutor
General's office (Fiscalia) on creating standards and
protocols for investigations and projects to build confidence
between military and civilian justice officials, and noted
that 600 cases were transferred from military to civilian
jurisdiction in 2008--compared to only 33 in 2007. The group
requested continued work in this area. Esparza and Yepes
also asked the Embassy work with the Fiscalia to protect
victims' families and NGOs that file complaints on behalf of
the EJE victims. Participants told us they wanted to
maintain an active dialogue with the Embassy, and thanked the
USG for openness and advocacy on human rights issues.
BROWNFIELD

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