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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04BOGOTA5234
2004-05-22 20:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR USG SUPPORT TO DEMOBILIZATION

Tags:   EAID  PHUM  PREL  PTER  CO 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 005234 

SIPDIS

STATE ALSO FOR P AND L
AID/LAC ALSO FOR DEPUTY ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR KAREN
HARBERT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2014
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL PTER CO
SUBJECT: LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR USG SUPPORT TO DEMOBILIZATION
PROCESS


Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, Reasons 1.5 (b)
and (d).



1. (C) This is an Action Request: Embassy Bogota requests
that the Department urgently work with both DOJ and USAID to
resolve legal ambiguities that inhibit our ability to support
aspects of desertion and demobilization programs in Colombia.
In particular, we need a ruling on whether, and when,
program assistance can be provided to a former member of a
designated FTO who has voluntarily left the organization, is
cooperating against it, and is participating in a program of
peaceful re-insertion. We also need clarification of our
ability to provide assistance to peace verification programs
(although these do not provide assistance to ex-combatants).



2. (C) This issue has been pending for some time. President
Uribe raised it with Secretary Powell in March, although the
question pre-dates last February's inter-agency
demobilization team visit by more than six months. Recently,
the issue took a step backward when the office of the AID
General Counsel informed the embassy that it could "express
no opinion on the legality... of assisting child
ex-combatants" because "the legality of the USG assisting
former members of the AUC, a designated foreign terrorist
organization, under the AUC reintegration program is being
considered by the Department of Justice and to date no
opinion has been forthcoming." In short, not only do we have
no permission to provide assistance to motivate and support
deserters or other voluntary demobilizations, but we no
longer even have a clear picture on our long-standing
assistance to ex-child soldiers.



3. (C) The issue became more urgent with the signing two
weeks ago of a concentration agreement between the
paramilitary leaders and the government. Although we don't
know where this will end up, the government hopes to
concentrate and begin demobilizing an additional 5,000
paramilitaries before the end of the year, in addition to the
4,000 or so deserters who presently are languishing at great
expense in government-provided housing.



4. (C) Government preparations for concentration and
demobilization have improved, but are still not where they
should be. During the February inter-agency visit, the
government provided its demobilization and reincorporation
plan, which has since been refined. We would like to do
more, not only in the planning, but also in the
implementation phase.



5. (C) We understand that this is a tough question. But, as
we understand it, because there has been no formal FTO
designation in the case of the Baath party or the Republican
National Guard, the Taliban, the RUF, and certain Mideast
organizations, Colombia must be the test case. We completely
support the FTO designations of the FARC, ELN, and AUC in
Colombia. The current legal uncertainty acts, however, not
as a constraint on terrorists, but on the ability of the U.S.
to pursue anti-terror polices in Colombia: to motivate
desertions and demobilizations (with concurrent provision of
first-rate intelligence on terror groups), to meet genuine
humanitarian needs of child soldiers and the families of
deserters and the demobilized, and to build a structure that
can lead to reinsertion and a return to legitimate life for
those involved in the conflict who want to find an
alternative. By impeding demobilization, we are also
impeding application of the draft law on justice and
compensation, which the U.S. largely supports, and which
provides for incarceration of and restitution by those guilty
of serious violent crimes.



6. (C) A related question is our ability to assist in the
monitoring of compliance with concentration and
demobilization. On this, the USAID General Counsel said
that: &monitoring of these types of programs to ensure that
ex-combatants do not return to terrorist activity raises
serious questions as well." The OAS verification mission
needs, and deserves our support.
WOOD