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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BOGOTA1826 2009-06-05 21:57:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
Cable title:  

MAY HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE

Tags:   PHUM PGOV KJUS PTER ELAB CO 
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DE RUEHBO #1826/01 1562157
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
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FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9089
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2309
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN PANAMA 3709
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 8316
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8948
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 4915
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001826 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2019
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KJUS PTER ELAB CO
SUBJECT: MAY HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATE

REF: A. BOGOTA 803

B. BOGOTA 1047

C. 08 BOGOTA 2774

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor David M. Zimov
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)


SUMMARY
-------


1. (C) Local United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights (UNHCHR) Deputy Director Javier Hernandez told us
extrajudicial killings by security forces fell 50% from 2007
to 2008. He said UNHCHR does not consider Defense Ministry
Directive 29 to have been a factor in "false positive" cases,
noting that reports of "false positives" dropped sharply
after last October's expulsion of 27 officers and soldiers.
The Prosecutor General's office (Fiscalia) won the conviction
of four soldiers and ordered the arrest of 37 individuals in
"false positive" prosecutions. The Fiscalia made progress in
high-profile para-political, paramilitary, and FARC human
rights cases. Human Rights groups report "social cleansing"
pamphlets in 24 cities have created a "climate of fear,"
though Police are not aware of incidents connected to the
pamphlets. End Summary

FALSE POSITIVES DECLINING


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




2. (C) Javier Hernandez, Deputy Director of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Office,
told us that UNHCHR data showed a 50% drop in reported
extrajudicial killings from 2007 to 2008. He said
extrajudicial killings, including "false positives"--cases in
which members of the Colombian military murdered civilians
and later reported them as combat kills--were on the decline.
UNHCHR reported 397 killings in 2007 and 193 in 2008.
Hernandez said UNHCHR did not yet have figures for 2009, but
highlighted that there had been a "dramatic drop" in cases
since the October 2008 public dismissal of 27 soldiers. He
confirmed UNHCHR concluded that Directive 29--a Ministry of
Defense Directive that allows for financial awards for
information leading to the capture or killing of high-value
targets from the FARC and other illegal armed groups (REF
A)--likely did not/not play any role in the "false positive"
killings.

Extrajudicial Killings Reported to UNHCHR:
Year 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Cases 161 185 195 328 397 193

FISCALIA LAUNCHES CASES


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




3. (U) The Fiscalia has issued preventive detention orders
for 65 military personnel, including three colonels, in
conjunction with the alleged 2007-2008 extrajudicial killings
of eleven men from the Soacha region of south Bogota.
Colonel Jose Gabriel Castrillon Garcia was arrested for the
February 2004 Acandi (Choco) murders of four men from Sucre.
Seven soldiers were arrested for the 2005 San Javier,
Medellin murder of a minor. Civilians Jose Transito Lucumi
and Victoria Montenegro Sandoval--the alleged recruiters of
five men from Popayan (Cauca), who were reported as combat
kills in Cordoba in September 2007--were arrested.

AND WINS CONVICTIONS


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




4. (U) Soldier Francisco Luis Escobar Calderon was
sentenced to 58 years in prison and three
co-conspirators--all from the Alta Montana Battalion of the
First Brigade--were sentenced to 45 years for the August 2007
murder of Luis Sandoval Perez in Chita (Boyaca). Two
officers and four soldiers of the Monteria Gaula were each
convicted to 28 years of prison for the March 5, 2006 murders
of two men outside of Monteria (Cordoba); the victims were
lured from Caucasia (Antioquia) with the promise of work.



5. (C) The Military Criminal Justice system transferred a
record number of cases to the Fiscalia in 2008. Still, Human
Rights Program Director Carlos Franco told us the military
may be backsliding, as acting Military Criminal Justice
system head, Colonel Carlos Avila, has reportedly made
efforts to safeguard military personnel from prosecution.
Three hundred cases involving approximately 550 victims
reportedly remain in the military system and have not been
transferred to the civilian legal system. Threats against
military judges, civilian prosecutors, judges, and witnesses
remain a concern. A key witness against retired Sergeant
Luis Eduardo Mahecha Hernandez (charged in the murder of Jose
Orlando Giraldo) was killed on May 10, days after the trial
began.

UPDATE ON OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS CASES


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




6. (U) Former Administrative Department of Security (DAS)
Director Jorge Noguera has been charged as a co-author in
four homicide cases. Noguera allegedly shared intelligence
information with former paramilitaries who murdered the
victims. Of the four individuals murdered, three were union
leaders. The Fiscalia is investigating Colonel Jorge Alberto
Amor Paez, former commander of the Palace Battalion of the
Third Division in Valle de Cauca, for his involvement the
October 2001 paramilitary assassinations of 24 people in La
Alaska and La Habana (Buga, Valle de Cauca). As part of the
Justice and Peace Law process, three former AUC leaders --
including Herbert Veloza ("HH") -- have testified that Amor
facilitated the AUC Calima Bloque's entry into the area.



7. (U) Former FARC leader Raul Agudelo Medina ("Olivo
Saldana") pled guilty to the April 2001 FARC attack on Rio
Blanco (Tolima) that left 28 people dead. Rodrigo Perez
Alzate ("Julian Bolivar"), former commander of the AUC Bloque
Central Bolivar, pled guilty to the December 8, 2003 killing
of Frank Denison Castrillon Casas in Antioquia. Earlier in
2009, Perez confessed that his men were responsible for 12
murders of union members from 2001 to 2005. Two
former-paramilitary fighters, Guillermo Hurtado Moreno ("70")
and Wilson Rivera Hernandez were convicted of the October
2000 murders of four men and two boys in Barrancabermeja
(Santander). Both were sentenced to 28 years in prison.

PAMPHLETS INCITE "CLIMATE OF FEAR"


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




8. (SBU) Threatening pamphlets calling for "social
cleansing" of criminals, drug users, prostitutes, and gays
were distributed in 24 major cities (Ref B). Pamphlets in
Bogota threatened employees of the Human Rights Ombudsman
Office (Defensoria), calling them "snitches" and "targets."
Though no documented cases of criminal activity have resulted
from the pamphlets, Alberto Yepes of Coordinacion Colombia
Europa Estados Unidos (CCEEU) and other NGO leaders told us
the pamphlets have created a "climate of fear." Threats
against the Bogota-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and
Transgender (LGBT) radio station "Radio Diversa" caused
management to reduce operations and broadcast from a secret
location.

INCREASED VIOLENCE IN CATATUMBO


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




9. (U) Citing increasing violence in the region, Ombudsman
Volmar Perez Ortiz called for increased security in Catatumbo
(Norte de Santander). The FARC's 33rd Front stopped an
ambulance on May 18, murdered the patient (who was being
treated for a gunshot wound), and threatened the medical
staff. The National Liberation Army (ELN) killed four
policemen and wounded a 17 year old civilian the same day in
an ELN minefield in Catatumbo. Armed groups threatened five
mayors and four council members in the region.

LAND REPARATIONS PAID TO INDIGENOUS GROUP


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




10. (U) The Ministry of Justice and Interior (MOIJ) turned
over an additional 482 hectares of land to the indigenous
Paez community (REF C) in response to the 1991 massacre of 20
people at a farm in Nilo (Cauca). Viceminister of Interior
Viviana Manrique told us the GOC has thus far distributed
13,128 hectares to the Paez, and expects the total to reach
15,663 hectares.

INDIGENOUS LEADER KILLED


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




11. (U) Robert de Jesus Guacheta, deputy Governor of the
Honduras Indigenous reserve (Cauca), was shot and killed May


18. Guacheta was known for his tough stance against coca
production and private sector investment. There are no known
suspects or motives.

Brownfield