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Cablegate: December Human Rights Update

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DE RUEHBO #0061/01 0221948
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R 221948Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2182
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BOGOTA 000061

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PTER KJUS CO
SUBJECT: DECEMBER HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE

SUMMARY

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1. (U) Reports of false positive killings -- military murders
presented as combat kills -- declined by 96 percent in 2009
according to the GOC. A court convicted a Lieutenant and a
Sergeant for the 2006 false positive murders of two individuals.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) claimed
responsibility for the murder of the governor of Caqueta. The FARC
were alleged to have killed two Afro-Colombian activists in Choco
and a councilman in Tolima. FARC landmines killed one child and
seriously wounded three others in Narino. End Summary.

REPORTS OF FALSE POSITIVE KILLINGS DECLINE

------------------------------------------

2. (U) The GOC announced that 14 false positive cases -- military
murders falsely reported as killed in combat -- were alleged to
have occurred in 2009, two of which were proven crimes; the other
12 cases are under initial investigation. Foreign Minister Jaime
Bermudez reported this represented at least a 96 percent reduction
in false positive murders since 2008, when almost 400 false
positive cases were reported prior to the October 2008 dismissal of
27 military personnel associated with the Soacha false positive
scandal.

PROSECUTIONS FOR MILITARY CRIMES CONTINUE

-----------------------------------------

3. (U) The Fourth Circuit Court of Monteria convicted Lieutenant
Diego Beltran Vega (in absentia) and Sergeant Oscar Orlando Camargo
in the 2006 false positive murders of John Freddy Camargo Herrera
and Darwin Antonio Rivera Climaco. The two victims were lured from
Caucasia, Antioquia to Canalete, Cordoba with promises of work,
killed by members of the 33rd Infantry Batalion, and falsely
reported as killed in combat.

4. (U) The Prosecutor General's office ordered the preventive
detention of 11 members of the "December 11" Marine Battalion in
the 2005 false positive case of Miguel Angel Martinez Yepez and
Felix Antonio Rico Martinez in San Jacinto, Bolivar.

FARC KILL POLITICAL LEADERS, ACTIVISTS, CHILD

---------------------------------------------

5. (U) On December 21, the FARC kidnapped Caqueta Department
Governor Luis Francisco Cuellar; his body was found dead the
following day. The FARC claimed responsibility and reported
Cuellar had been kidnapped to "stand trial" for corruption and they
had not intended to kill him. The guerilla group blamed the
military for Cuellar's death, since its pursuit forced the
kidnappers to kill him in order to escape.

6. (U) Manuel Moya and Graciano Blandon, leaders of 231

Afro-Colombian displaced families seeking to return to the areas of
Curvarado and Jiguamiendo in Uraba, Choco, were tortured and killed
on December 17 in Choco. Blandon's adult son was killed as well.
Moya and Blandon's supporters, including presidential advisor Jose
Obdulio Gaviria Velez, accused the FARC of the crime. Moya and
Blandon had been in conflict with the San Jose de Apartado Peace
Community and the humanitarian zones in Curvarado and Jiguamiendo,
which they claimed were associated with the FARC.

7. (U) On December 8, councilman Ricardo Perdomo of Prado, Tolima
was killed, allegedly by the FARC. On December 29, 10 members of
the FARC detained San Antonio, Tolima Mayor Ismael Cruz Neira for
30 minutes before releasing him unharmed.

8. (U) FARC landmines killed one child and seriously wounded three
others in Roberto Payan, Narino on December 4.

DISPLACEMENT TRENDS DOWN, BUT RATE QUESTIONED

---------------------------------------------

9. (U) The GOC announced that displacements due to violence had
declined by 50 percent between January and November of this year
compared with the same period in 2008 (from 235,900 in 2008 to
107,752 in 2009). The GOC attributed the decline to continuing
consolidation of territorial presence, which allowed for increased
availability of state services and a reduction in negative factors
associated with the conflict. NGO Human Rights and Displacement
Consultancy (CODHES) acknowledged that the number of displacements
may have reduced in 2009, but dismissed the rate of reduction
reported by the GOC as optimistic and premature. CODHES and the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Colombia
pointed out that the displacement figure for 2009 will continue to
climb in 2010 as new cases are included in the national registry.
NICHOLS

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