P 191751Z NOV 07 FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0163 C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 008117 SUBJECT: USG SUPPORT FOR

GOC EFFORTS TO COMBAT EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS REF: A. BOGOTA 4340 ¶B. BOGOTA 7395 Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d) -------SUMMARY -------¶1. (C) The Colombian Government has made ending extrajudicial killings (EJES) a top priority, with Defense Minister Santos and Prosecutor General Iguaran instituting steps to facilitate civilian investigation of combat deaths, end jurisdictional disputes between military and civilian courts, and change promotions/rewards criteria for military personnel that may contribute to such killings. An interagency group at post works with the GOC to support its efforts to combat EJES and promote a transparent, timely investigative process. Human rights groups and GOC sources estimate the number of EJES will range from 180-240 in 2007. UNHCHR

has no evidence to suggest that rural community leaders are targeted, as some human rights groups allege. Most victims are young, poorly educated peasants--through a small percentage of victims appear to have links to insurgents groups. We will organize a conference with senior Colombian military and civilian officials to highlight the importance of this issue, agree on an action plan to implement specific policy changes, and ensure the availability of adequate resources. END SUMMARY. -----------------------------DIFFERING CALCULATIONS OF EJES -----------------------------¶2. (C) Calculating the number of EJES remains a challenge due to lack of information and difficulty in determining what constitutes such killings. Data from the local UN High Commission on Human Rights (UNHCHR) office, human rights groups, and GOC authorities indicate the number of such alleged killings in 2007 will likely range from 180 to 240. This number appears roughly consistent with last year's figures. The Inspector General's office (Procuraduria), the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoria) and other GOC agencies recognize 1017 victims between 2002-2007. The Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia) has basic data (including full names) on only 648 of these victims. ¶3. (C) An October report by the International Commission on Extrajudicial Executions (a coalition

of various human rights groups) cites 955 victims of EJES between 2002-2007. The group estimates 236 killings between July 2006 and June 2007. The UNHCHR and human rights groups say this represents a sharp increase over the period 2000-2002, but the lack of detail regarding these case, especially in earlier years, makes this hard to document. The human rights groups charge that many victims are community leaders, and link the perceived increase to the paramilitary demobilization. UNHCHR officials and Fiscalia Human Rights unit prosecutors say they have no evidence to support these contentions, noting that most victims constitute young, poorly educated peasants. Still, UNHCHR says some EJE victims appear to have links to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Army of National Liberation (ELN) or other criminal groups. --------------POSSIBLE CAUSES --------------¶4. (C) Multiple factors account for EJES. The UNHCHR 2006 annual human rights report voiced concern that senior commanders' demands for "results" against illegally armed groups and the Army's emphasis on combat kills (bajas) as a measure of success encourage such killings. A 30% increase in forces since 2002, as well as a tripling of combat operations and weak military disciplinary controls, also contribute. The difficulties in applying Colombia's civilian legal system to detainees in rural areas--or in many cases the lack of any civilian judicial presence at

all--also play a role. UNHCHR reports the lack of discipline among some military units sometimes leads to revenge killings. ¶5. (C) Fabrications also contribute, with the FARC telling their members to claim any combat death as an extrajudicial killing to undermine military operations and legitimacy. Still, Defense Vice Minister Sergio Jaramillo and local UNHCHR director Juan Pablo Corlazzoli agree that fabricated cases account for only a small percentage of the total cases reported. Human Rights unit prosecutors in Medellin have highlighted their sensitivity to the fabrication issue, and only initiate cases with strong evidence. -------------------------------------------GOC ACTIONS TO COMBAT EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS -------------------------------------------¶6. (C) Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos and Prosecutor General Mario Iguaran have made ending EJES, as well as ensuring civilian investigations of all combat deaths, a priority. The Fiscalia set up a sub-unit in its Human Rights unit--consisting of eight prosecutors and eight assistant prosecutors--on October 19 to expedite the investigation of alleged security force homicides. The Fiscalia sent additional prosecutors and investigators to work with the regional Human Rights units in Medellin and Villavicencio to move cases. The MOD and Fiscalia also agreed in principle to set up civilian units to investigate all combat deaths; the MOD would transport these

units to the scene. The Fiscalia also works with the military criminal justice Luz Marina Gil to ensure that civilian courts judge all alleged EJES, and ending the practice of military courts opening parallel investigations. Medellin Human Rights unit prosecutors praised Gil for personally intervening with military judges to transfer cases to civilian jurisdiction. ¶7. (C) Santos issued an annex to Directive 10 on October 31 which highlights Armed Forces Commander Freddy Padilla's order directing troops to immediately notify civilian investigators of any combat death. The annex holds commanders responsible for reporting such killings and for cooperating with any Fiscalia investigation. The committee set up under Directive 10 has met six times since its creation in July 2007, and includes representatives of the Fiscalia, the UNHCHR, the Presidential Program on Human Rights, and the Human Rights Ombudsman's offices. The committee has developed a detailed list of alleged extrajudicial killings, clarified the rights of military personnel under investigation, and monitored progress in specific investigations. ¶8. (C) To address concerns that an emphasis on kills inadvertently fosters EJES, Santos also instructed Padilla to set up a group to develop new criteria to evaluate officers' eligibility for promotions and awards. The group will look to reward demobilizations or captures over kills, and to develop promotion criteria based on commanders' successful implementation of their overall campaign plans. The group will also consider requiring

commanders to explain the position (i.e. front commander, finance officer, etc.) that claimed kills held within an illegal criminal group. The MOD hopes these measures will ease the pressure on soldiers to show results through body count and discourage them from killing peasants to inflate numbers. Still, Jaramillo told us despite Minister Santos's support, several key generals continue to resist these changes. ---------------------------------USG ACTIONS TO SUPPORT GOC EFFORTS ---------------------------------¶9. (C) Post has formed an interagency group-including State, USAID, Milgroup, and the Department of Justice--to coordinate efforts to support the GOC strategy. Our efforts will focus on: 1) promoting cooperation between civilian and military justice officials through cross-training, cross-assignments, joint conferences, liaison procedures, fellowships, etc., 2) strengthening prevention measures such as internal military disciplinary controls and legal awareness (internal inspectors, training/deployment of operational lawyers, rules of engagement, promotion policies, etc.), and 3) closing the gap between military and civilian judicial presence in the field to facilitate civilian processing of detainees and investigation of combat deaths (forward locating civilian investigators, etc.). Providing civilian investigators with the airlift and other resources needed to conduct timely, on-site investigations of combat deaths.

¶10. (C) The Embassy will hold an off-site meeting with the MOD and Fiscalia to bring together senior Colombian military and civilian officials to highlight the importance of the issue, confirm an action plan to implement key policy changes, ensure the availability of resources, and identify appropriate areas for USG assistance. Padilla and Jaramillo consider such an event crucial to addressing the problem. Post will report on the results of the session. Brownfield (Edited and reading.) reformatted by Andres for ease of

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