Cablegate: Unhchr Releases Its 2004 Human Rights Report

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

id: 29070
date: 3/17/2005 19:25
refid: 05BOGOTA2564
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 002564


E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/3020

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).


1. (C) On March 11, the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights released its 2004 human rights report on
Colombia. The report once again characterized the human
rights situation in Colombia as "critical," and noted an
increased number of reports of State-sponsored extrajudicial
killings and continued links between the security forces and
paramilitaries. However, the report recognized an
improvement in key violence indicators such as homicides and
massacres. The UN proposed another 27 recommendations for
2005, 24 which are carried over from 2004. We will continue
to work with the GOC, UNHCHR, and the G-24 to help with GOC
compliance in 2005. End Summary.

UN Report Released

2. (U) On March 11, the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights (UNHCHR) released its 2004 human rights report
on Colombia. Although it acknowledged that key violence
indicators, such as homicides and massacres, continued to
improve, the UN once again characterized the human rights
situation in Colombia as "critical." The report notes that
UNHCHR's Colombia office received more complaints about
extrajudicial killings attributed to members of the security
forces and other public officials, that there were more
allegations of State-sponsored torture and forced
disappearance throughout the year, and that links between
public officials and illegal armed groups, particularly
paramilitaries, continued. Additionally, the report
discusses serious breaches of international humanitarian law,
such as attacks on the civilian population, homicides,
massacres, and hostage-taking, committed by illegal armed

3. (U) On the positive side, the report recognizes "an
increased openness and intensification of dialogue between
the Government and representatives of civil society and the
international community." Progress was also recorded in
terms of prevention and protection, including the
strengthening of the USAID-funded Early Warning
System and the destruction of stored anti-personnel mines.
However, the report said positive measures were weakened by
occasional public statements by high-level government
officials that questioned the legitimacy of the work of human
rights defenders.


4. (U) Regarding the UNHCHR's specific human rights
recommendations, the report acknowledged that various State
entities showed greater interest during the second half of
2004 in implementing the recommendations, while noting that
implementation was mixed, varied, and less consistent than
desired. For example, the report credits the GOC with
progress in its program to combat impunity and in carrying
out actions aimed at promoting gender equality, but asserts
the GOC's policies on the fight against paramilitarism and
narrowing the economic inequality gap needed to be

5. (U) The High Commissioner has proposed another 27
recommendations for 2005. The recommendations again focus on
six categories: prevention and protection (6
recommendations); the internal armed conflict (6); the rule
of law and impunity (8); economic and social policies (1);
promotion of a culture of respect for human rights (3); and
advisory services and technical cooperation (3). One of the
three new recommendations calls for the development of a
system of public statistics that adequately covers human
rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian
law, including violations by the security forces. To this
end, the High Commissioner proposes that the Office of the
Vice-President, the Human Rights Ombudsman ("Defensoria"),
the Inspector General's Office ("Procuraduria"), the
Prosecutor General's Office ("Fiscalia"), the Ministry of
Defense, and other state entities work with NGOs and academic
institutions, with the assistance of the UN office. The
other two new recommendations relate to the government
withdrawing its reservation to the Rome Statute, and the
Fiscalia ensuring that the sub-unit in charge of
investigating public officials' links to illegal armed groups
concentrates on exploring links between paramilitary groups
and members of the security forces, civilian functionaries,
and private individuals.


6. (C) The UN's report was as we expected. Although some
progress by the GOC was noted, the UN continues to insist on
a strict-constructionist interpretation of what the GOC must
do to comply with its recommendations. For example, despite
the fact that the GOC took various measures to strengthen its
protection program, the UN criticized the Government for
failing to resolve a basic dispute over who should serve as
State-subsidized bodyguards for threatened individuals.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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