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Cablegate: Goc Presents Human Rights Status Report to G-24

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 BOGOTA 013087

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PTER EAID CO
SUBJECT: GOC PRESENTS HUMAN RIGHTS STATUS REPORT TO G-24
AND NGOS IN PREPARATION FOR CARTAGENA


------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) On December 15, President Uribe, Vice President
Santos and several other GOC officials presented a human
rights status report to the G-24 Ambassadors and NGO
representatives in preparation for the London Declaration
follow-up conference in Cartagena on February 3-4, 2005. The
proceedings were carried by local media. The GOC reported
that nearly all violence indicators, including murders,
forced displacement, and kidnappings, had decreased
significantly since 2002, and military operations against the
illegal armed groups were working. The GOC highlighted
progress in key human rights programs, including efforts to
develop a National Action Plan for Human Rights, expanding
the early warning system and state protection for threatened
individuals, and developing a national plan to address
anti-personnel landmines. It reported on the 45 hours of
consultations conducted over the last couple of months with
the NGO community on the 27 recommendations of the UN Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and announced an
agreement to share intelligence files with NGOs. Santos, who
led the substantive part of the GOC presentation, said the
Uribe administration plans to complete the National Action
Plan for Human Rights and strengthen its human rights
programs in 2005. G-24 chair Ambassador Marina Celina
Azevedo of Brazil read a statement on behalf of the group
(see para 13). Following the formal presentations, President
Uribe conducted a spirited exchange with NGO representatives.
Santos and Foreign Minister Barco, who was also present,
characterized the President's encounter with NGOs as much
tamer than past ones. However, several NGOs questioned the
government's claims of progress and expressed doubt about its
capacity to improve the country's human rights situation.
End Summary.

2. (U) President Uribe, Vice President Santos, Foreign
Minister Barco, Presidential Advisor for Social Action Hoyos
Aristizabal met with G-24 Ambassadors and representatives
from eight NGOs on December 15. Director of the UN Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michael Fruhling also
made a brief presentation. NGOs represented were Alianza de
Organizaciones Sociales y Afines, Confederacion Colombiana de
Organizaciones No Gubernamentales, Secretariado Nacional de
Pastoral Social, Dialogo Inter-Agencial en Colombia, Consejo
Nacional de Planeacion, Federacion Colombiana de Municipios,
Asociacion Nacional de Industriales and Fundacion Restrepo
Barco. The meeting lasted almost four hours.

-------------------
Positive Statistics
-------------------

3. (U) Vice President Santos reported the following
statistics on human rights indicators for 2002, 2003 and the
first 11 months of 2004, respectively:

- murders: 28,837, 23,031 and 18,579 (down 20 and 14 percent
from the year before)
- murders of labor unionists: 121, 54 and 37 (down 55 and 27
percent)
- murders of mayors: 13, 9 and 14 (down 31 and up 75 percent)
- murders of councilmen: 80, 75 and 18 (down 6 and 73 percent)
- murders of indigenous people: 180, 164 and 79 (down 9 and
45 percent)
- murders of teachers: 79, 41 and 57 (down 48 and up 39
percent)
- massacre victims: 680, 504 and 238 (down 26 and 48 percent)
- massacres: 115, 94 and 43 (down 18 and 49 percent)
- murders of journalists: 10, 7 and 3 (down 43 and 50 percent)
- kidnapping victims: 2,986, 2,200 and 1,250 (down 26 and 41
percent)
- attacks on towns: 32, 5 and 15 (down 84 and up 200 percent)
- attacks on infrastructure: 905, 494 and 264 (down 45 and 45
percent)
- forced displacement: 379,289, 219,431 and 124,284 (down 42
and 41 percent)

4. (U) Santos said security forces have killed and captured
the following numbers of illegal armed group members in 2002,
2003 and the first 11 months in 2004, respectively:

- killed paramilitaries: 187, 346 and 533 (up 85 and 78
percent)
- captured paramilitaries: 1,356, 3,166 and 4,455 (up 133 and
58 percent)
- killed guerrillas: 1,690, 1,919 and 1,808 (up 14 and one
percent)
- captured guerrillas: 3,763, 6,967 and 5,872 (up 85 and down
ten percent)

-------------------------------------
National Action Plan for Human Rights
-------------------------------------

5. (U) Of 171 countries that have pledged to develop a
National Action Plan for Human Rights, Santos underscored
that Colombia would be one of only 20 countries that had
complied by 2005. He reported that the Uribe administration
has approximately USD 325,000 (880 million pesos) available
for the plan, 60 percent of which is provided by Switzerland
and UNHCHR. In January 2005, the GOC will consult with civil
society about the plan. The GOC has incorporated human
rights into departmental development strategies. Thirty
departments and 149 municipalities (equivalent to U.S.
counties) have humanitarian action plans.

--------------------------------------------- -
Early Warning System and High Risk Communities
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (U) In 2004, there were 83 risk reports and 58 follow-up
investigations, which resulted in 36 early warnings. The GOC
established a regional risk report for the Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta region and is working on reports for Arauca and
Valle del Cauca Departments. Uribe and Santos credited the
early warning system, increased state presence, and support
from civil society with decreases in internal displacement,
violence, and massacres. The GOC has identified ten high
risk areas in the country and will begin augmenting state
presence there on January 15. The Spanish Agency for
International Cooperation and USAID are each providing
approximately USD 132,000 (330 million pesos) to the
initiative.

----------------
State Protection
----------------

7. (U) The GOC had USD 15,000 (37.2 million pesos) in 2004
for protecting threatened individuals, seventeen percent of
which was from USAID. In 2004, 4,249 individuals received
assistance from this program. Since 1999, 17,738 people have
been helped. The GOC trained 204 individuals in preventative
security and re-located more than 800 threatened teachers.

-------------------
Antipersonnel Mines
-------------------

8. (U) Working with NGOs and the international community, the
GOC has developed a National Action Plan Against Landmines.
The military destroyed its last arsenal of stored landmines
on October 24.

------------------------------
Cooperation with Civil Society
------------------------------

9. (U) Hoyos stressed GOC efforts to expand its consultative
process with civil society. In 2004, the GOC held more than
20 meetings with civil society representatives to discuss
human rights, including a meeting between President Uribe and
international NGOs on August 5 and between the Defense
Minister and military high command with civil society. The
Ministry of Defense agreed to share intelligence files with
NGOs under supervision from the Inspector General's Office.
The Police and military will each form special committees to
review the files and share requested information. The NGOs
will request specific files, after which time the Defense
Ministry will have two months to respond.

------------------------------
Social and Economic Indicators
------------------------------

10. (U) According to the GOC, GDP grew 3.7 percent in the
first three trimesters of 2004. Unemployment fell 12.4
percent this year. Since 2004, the GOC created 734,000 new
spaces in public schools, and in 2004, 93,000 students
received education assistance from royalties. There are
124,000 adults enrolled in literacy programs and 87,000
at-risk individuals enrolled in education programs. The GOC
provided 35,154 scholarships for higher education and 77,000
housing subsidies in 2004. There are nine state-funded
departmental medical missions.

----------
2005 Plans
----------

11. (U) Santos said the GOC has the following goals for 2005:

- Complete the National Action Plan for Human Rights by June
or July (On December 16, Santos and Fruhling signed a letter
of understanding stating that the UN Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia will advise the
Vice Presidency on the Human Rights Action Plan.)

- Strengthen the culture of human rights

- Develop a policy to fight impunity

- Establish human rights programs in 350 municipalities

- Expand state presence in the ten designated high-risk areas

- Improve internal investigations of the armed forces

- Complete review of intelligence files

- Develop an information database on human rights

- Achieve optimal functioning of the early warning system

--------------
NGOs Skeptical
--------------

12. (SBU) NGO representatives peppered Uribe with questions
and comments for almost two hours. The exchange was
spirited. NGOs questioned GOC statistics and capacity to
address the country's human rights problems. The president
of the Alliance of Social Organizations, referring to
statistics from the Comptroller's Office, pointed out that
Colombia continues to suffer from widespread poverty. The
Secretary General of the National Indigenous Organization

SIPDIS
walked out of the meeting, at one point, complaining that the
Uribe administration was doing little to stop what he
described as genocide against indigenous people. Others
questioned GOC implementation of the 27 recommendations of
the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Uribe responded that he respected the recommendations and
wished to continue discussing their implementation with the
OHCHR, but reiterated that they were recommendations and not
the only way to measure GOC progress in human rights. That
said, he asked OHCHR director Fruhling how many
recommendations the GOC had implemented. Fruhling demurred,
stating that implementation was a process, that there was a
"positive dynamic," and that progress was being made. He
cited one area where more needed to be done: incorporating
training in human rights and international humanitarian law
for all members of the security forces. (Fruhling said
afterwards that giving a scorecard in a public forum in front
of Uribe and NGO representatives would have been
counterproductive.) Still other NGOs questioned the GOC
approach to the peace process, criticizing ongoing
paramilitary demobilizations without a law in place to deal
with those who are guilty of violent crimes beyond membership
in an illegal armed group. Uribe responded with a passionate
defense of his democratic security policy and the
paramilitary demoblizations underway.

--------------
G-24 Statement
--------------

13. (U) An unofficial translation of the G-24 statement
negotiated by G-24 members in Bogota over the last month and
delivered by outgoing G-24 President, Ambassador Maria Celina
Azevedo follows:

Begin Text:

Mr. President,

1. As you know, the G-24 was formed as an informal group of
countries to support the Colombian Government to fulfill the
principles and goals established in the London Declaration on
July 10, 2003.

2. In this sense, we want to underline the accomplishments
achieved by the Colombian Government in the development of
different themes related to the London Declaration and we
invite the authorities to follow the aformentioned process.
We would like to affirm our role as facilitators with respect
to all the initiatives related to the London Declaration, and
we consider dialog as the ideal path for the search for
solutions to the country's internal issues. We reiterate our
commitment to continue looking for ways for the international
community to contribute to the realization of the goals of
the London Declaration.

3. We support the deepening of mechanisms for dialogue
between the Colombian Government and Civil Society,
represented by different groups of NGOs, and with the
international community, for better coordinated international
cooperation, in such a way that the government can achieve
its proposed objectives. Considering the important role that
civil society plays in an open and transparent democracy its
participation during the meeting in Cartagena would be
valuable.

4. Although a long road is ahead, we take note of the
different methods that have been and continue being taken by
the Colombian Government with an eye towards fulfulling the
recommendations of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights. The Colombian Government can continue counting
on the support of our governments for this objective.

5. We want to highlight the Colombian Government's decision
to contribute to the cessation of anti-personnel mines,
especially the destruction of military landmine reserves. We
recognize such an action as an important step forward and
demonstration of commitment to the consolidation of
International Humanitarian Law in Colombia, and we urge the
illegal armed groups to follow the example, in such a way to
protect the civilian population from the damage caused by the
use of anti-personnel mines.

6. We note that overcoming the conflict and realizing peace
with the illegal armed groups requires a legal framework that
emphasizes the principles of Truth, Justice, and Reparation
and that respects Human Rights and International Humanitarian
Law. Likewise, we note that demobilization processes should
make use of disarmament methods and clear strategies for
reinsertion for the individuals that participate in
demobilization. In this sense, we invite the government to
take the necessary measures.

7. In this context, we reiterate our call to all the illegal
armed groups to agree to a cessation in hostilities and move
towards peace talks.

8. We condemn the evil practices of kidnapping, forced
disappearances, and extra-judicial executions. We reiterate
the need for all kidnapped persons in Colombia to be released
immediately.

9. We reaffirm our condemnation of drug trafficking and any
form of violence and terrorist acts, of which, among others,
the victims are the civilian population and especially the
most vulnerable groups of civilians. We therefore repeat the
need for these acts to be prosecuted with full respect for
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

10. We believe it is of extreme importance to reinforce the
special mechanisms of support and protection for the most
vulnerable segments of Colombian society, such as displaced
persons, indigenous and afro-Colombian communities, union
leaders, human rights defenders, and other members of civil
society who have been threatened, and for their relatives,
and for the women and children affected by the conflict and
the humanitarian crisis.

11. As a result, we support the Humanitarian Action Plan and
the inclusive way in which the government is developing it,
with support from the international community and civil
society. We hope the process will conclude soon.

12. We cannot forget to recognize the important contribution
of the United Nations, Organization of American States,
International Organizations, and other actors in Colombia in
the search for a solution to the grave problems of the
population that is affected by the activities of the illegal
armed groups. In a very notable way, it is equally as
important to underscore the efforts undertaken toward the
search for a negotiated peace.

13. Likewise, we reiterate our support for the fight against
drug trafficking, for the elimination of violence that drug
trafficking brings, and for the means to overcome these
circumstances.

14. Finally, we want to express our satisfaction with the
high level meeting to follow up the London Declaration in
February 2005. We hope the meeting strengthens the efficacy
and coordination of international cooperation, and can take
note of the advances made in the implementation of the
recommendations of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights in Colombia. We want to emphasize that
accomplishments in this field are beginning to be noticeable.
The advances that can be seen should not impede recognition
that much remains to be done to achieve difficult and
sustainable progress in constructing peace.

Thank you very much.

End Translation.

Begin Spanish Text:

1. Como es de su conocimiento, el G-24 fue constituido como
grupo informal de paises para apoyar al Gobierno de Colombia
en el cumplimiento de los principios y retos establecidos en
la Declaracion de Londres, el 10 de julio de 2003.

2. En ese sentido, deseamos subrayar los logros obtenidos por
el Gobierno de Colombia en el desarollo de diferentes temas
relacionadas a la Declaracion de Londres e invitamos las
autoridades a seguir dicho proceso. Quisieramos reafirmar
nuestro papel de facilitadores en lo que se refiere a todas
las iniciativas relacionadas con la Declaracion de Londres, y
consideramos que el dialogo es el camino idoneo para la
busqueda de soluciones a las cuestiones internas del pais.
Reiteramos nuestro compromiso de seguir buscando formas para
que la comunidad internacional pueda contribuir al
cumplimiento de los objectivos de la Declaracion de Londres.

3. Apoyamos la profundizacion de los mecanismos de dialogo
entre el Gobierno de Colombia y la Sociedad Civil,
representada por diferentes grupos de organizaciones
no-gubermentales, y con la comunidad internacional, para una
mejor coordinacion de la cooperacion internacional, de modo
que el Gobierno pueda alcanzar los objectivos propuestos.
Considerando el papel importante que juega la sociedad civil
en una democracia abierta y transparente seria valiosa su
participacion en la reunion de Cartagena.

4. Si bien un largo camino por recorrer, tomamos nota de las
distintas medidas que han sido y continuan siendo tomadas con
miras a permitir el cumplimiento, por parte del Gobierno
colombiano, de las Recomendaciones de la Oficina del Alto
Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos.
El Gobierno de Colombia puede seguir contando con el apoyo
de nuestros Gobiernos en este proposito.

5. Destacamos la decision del Gobierno de Colombia de
contribuir al cese del empleo de minas anti-personales,
especialmente la destruccion de las reservas militares de las
mismas. Reconocemos tal medida como un importante paso y
expresion del compromiso para la consolidacion del Derecho
Internacional Humanitario en Colombia, y exhortamos a los
grupos armados ilegales a seguir tal ejemplo, de modo que se
proteja a la poblacion civil de los danos causados por el uso
de las minas anti-personales.

6. Senalamos que la superacion del conflicto y la obtencion
de la paz con los grupos armados ilegales requieren un marco
legal con enfasis en los principios de Verdad, Justicia, y
Reparacion, que contemple el respeto a los Derechos Humanos y
al Derecho Internacional Humanitario. De igual modo,
consideramos que los procesos de desmobilizacion deben
abarcar mecanismos de desarme y estrategias claras de
reinsercion de los individuos que se acojan a la
desmovilizacion. En ese sentido, invitamos al Gobierno a
tomar las medidas necesarias.

7. En este contexto reiteramos nuestro llamamiento a todos
los grupos armados ilegales para que acuerden un cese de
hostilidades y abran espacios a un dialogo de paz.

8. Expresamos nuestra condena por las aberrantes practicas
del secuestro, las desapariciones forzosas y las ejecuciones
extra-judiciales. Reiteramos la necesidad de que todas las
personas secuestradas en Colombia sean liberadas
inmediatamente.

9. Reafirmamos nuestra condena al narcotrafico y a toda forma
de violencia y todo acto terrorista, de los que, entre otros,
son victimas la poblacion civil y especialmente los grupos
mas vulnerables. Recordamos entonces la necesidad de que
tales actos sean juzgados con pleno respeto a los Derechos
Humanos y al Derecho Internacional Humanitario.

10. Creemos que es de extrema importancia reforzar los
mecanismos especiales de apoyo y proteccion a los segmentos
mas vulnerables de la sociedad colombiana, como son los
desplazados, las comunidades indigenas y afro-colombianas,
los lideres sindicales, los defensores de los Derechos
Humanos y otros miembros de la sociedad civil que han sufrido
amenazas, y en contra de sus familiares, y a las mujeres y
ninos afectados por el conflicto y la crisis humanitaria.

11. En consecuencia respaldamos el Plan de Accion Humanitaria
y la forma participativa en que esta elaborando por el
Gobierno, con el apoyo de la comunidad internacional y de la
sociedad civil. Esperamos la pronta conclusion del proceso.

12. No podemos dejar de reconocer la importante contribucion
del Sistema de las Naciones Unidas, de la Organizacion de los
Estados Americanos, Organizaciones Internacionales y otros
actores en Colombia en la busqueda de una solucion a los
graves problemas de la poblacion afectada por las actividades
de los grupos armados ilegales. De modo muy especial, cabe
igualmente destacar los esfuerzos emprendidos hacia la
busqueda de una paz negociada.

13. Igualmente reiteramos nuestro apoyo a la lucha contra el
narcotrafico, a la eliminacion de la violencia que este
conlleva y a las medidas para superar esta situacion.

14. Finalmente, queremos expresar nuestra satisfaccion por la
convocatoria a la reunion de alto nivel de seguimiento a la
Declaracion de Londres, en Febrero de 2005. Esperamos que la
reunion fortalezca la eficacia y a la coordinacion de las
actividades de cooperacion internacional, y pueda tomar nota
de los avances de la implementacion de las Recomendaciones de
la Oficina del Alto Comisionado de Derechos Humanos de las
Naciones Unidas en Colombia. Queremos resaltar que los
logros en ese campo estan comenzando a constatarse. Los
avances que pueden ser vistos no deben impedir el
reconocimiento de que aun hay que recorrer un largo camino,
para que se puedan alcanzar conquistas duraderas y
sonstenibles en la construccion de la paz.

Muchas Gracias.

End Text.
WOOD

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