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Cable 1024: 2007 US Embassy Report on Steps Taken to Address Extrajudicial Killings in Colombia

Cable 1024: 2007 US Embassy Report on Steps Taken to Address Extrajudicial Killings in Colombia

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Published by Andres
This is a 2007 US embassy report detailing actions taken by the US and Colombian governments to address the widespread extrajudicial killings occurring throughout Colombia.
This is a 2007 US embassy report detailing actions taken by the US and Colombian governments to address the widespread extrajudicial killings occurring throughout Colombia.

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Published by: Andres on Apr 12, 2013
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04/12/2013

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P 191751Z NOV 07FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0163C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 008117SUBJECT: USG SUPPORT FOR GOC EFFORTS TO COMBATEXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS
REF: A. BOGOTA 4340¶B. BOGOTA 7395Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield.Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)
--------SUMMARY--------
¶1. (C) The Colombian Government has made endingextrajudicial killings (EJES) a top priority, withDefense Minister Santos and Prosecutor GeneralIguaran instituting steps to facilitate civilianinvestigation of combat deaths, end jurisdictionaldisputes between military and civilian courts, andchange promotions/rewards criteria for militarypersonnel that may contribute to such killings. Aninteragency group at post works with the GOC tosupport its efforts to combat EJES and promote atransparent, timely investigative process. Humanrights groups and GOC sources estimate the numberof EJES will range from 180-240 in 2007. UNHCHR
 
has no evidence to suggest that rural communityleaders are targeted, as some human rights groupsallege. Most victims are young, poorly educatedpeasants--through a small percentage of victimsappear to have links to insurgents groups. We willorganize a conference with senior Colombianmilitary and civilian officials to highlight theimportance of this issue, agree on an action planto implement specific policy changes, and ensurethe availability of adequate resources. ENDSUMMARY.
------------------------------DIFFERING CALCULATIONS OF EJES------------------------------
¶2. (C) Calculating the number of EJES remains achallenge due to lack of information and difficultyin determining what constitutes such killings.Data from the local UN High Commission on HumanRights (UNHCHR) office, human rights groups, andGOC authorities indicate the number of such allegedkillings in 2007 will likely range from 180 to 240.This number appears roughly consistent with lastyear's figures. The Inspector General's office(Procuraduria), the Human Rights Ombudsman(Defensoria) and other GOC agencies recognize 1017victims between 2002-2007. The ProsecutorGeneral's office (Fiscalia) has basic data(including full names) on only 648 of thesevictims.¶3. (C) An October report by the InternationalCommission on Extrajudicial Executions (a coalition
 
of various human rights groups) cites 955 victimsof EJES between 2002-2007. The group estimates 236killings between July 2006 and June 2007. TheUNHCHR and human rights groups say this representsa sharp increase over the period 2000-2002, but thelack of detail regarding these case, especially inearlier years, makes this hard to document. Thehuman rights groups charge that many victims arecommunity leaders, and link the perceived increaseto the paramilitary demobilization. UNHCHRofficials and Fiscalia Human Rights unitprosecutors say they have no evidence to supportthese contentions, noting that most victimsconstitute young, poorly educated peasants. Still,UNHCHR says some EJE victims appear to have linksto the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia(FARC), Army of National Liberation (ELN) or othercriminal groups.
---------------POSSIBLE CAUSES---------------
¶4. (C) Multiple factors account for EJES. TheUNHCHR 2006 annual human rights report voicedconcern that senior commanders' demands for"results" against illegally armed groups and theArmy's emphasis on combat kills (bajas) as ameasure of success encourage such killings. A 30%increase in forces since 2002, as well as atripling of combat operations and weak militarydisciplinary controls, also contribute. Thedifficulties in applying Colombia's civilian legalsystem to detainees in rural areas--or in manycases the lack of any civilian judicial presence at

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