Colombia’s Jesuit-run Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP) maintains a database of human rights violations committed by all parties in Colombia. In June, they finished analyzing numbers from 2007.
Their data revealed that the problem of “false positives” – Colombian military personnel killing civilians and presenting them as guerrillas killed in combat – continued unabated through the end of last year. CINEP found 132 cases of these extrajudicial executions in 2007, though their frequency was less intense during the second half of the year than during the first half.
Here is a translation (thanks to CIP intern Stephanie DiBello) of the introduction to CINEP’s report [PDF] summarizing its disturbing findings.
The Center for Investigation and Popular Education (CINEP) is aware of the international community’s great interest and concern for helping Colombia find peaceful alternatives. In our interest in monitoring diverse aspects of the country’s human rights situation, we wish to share a new report with you about cases of â€œfalse positivesâ€ [civilians killed outside of combat and presented as insurgents killed in combat], which were brought to our attention through the consolidation of our organizationâ€™s database.
Units of the security forces have reported these cases as positive results of operations against illegal armed groups. Although these deaths were reported in official accounts as â€œkilled in combatâ€, denunciations by social organizations, human rights defenders, victims, families of the victims, and regional and national press revealed them to be actions against the civil population outside of combat, thus making them violations of human rights and infractions of international humanitarian law.
Along with the update of the cases that we presented in October of last year, we consolidated a total of 132 occurrences of â€œfalse positivesâ€ between January and December of 2007. We reiterate the need to pave a way towards peace with respect for human rights, and we demand lawful actions from the security forces in Colombia.
Based on the information that was brought to our knowledge we point out the following aspects which we have presented in this report:
- In the first six months of 2007, 85 cases involving a total of 150 victims were reported, while in the second six months 47 cases with a total of 87 victims were reported.
- In general, during both periods of time the social group most victimized were campesinos, representing around 60% of the victims; among others, independent workers, indigenous people, and manual laborers were also victimized.
- With respect to geographic location of the cases, it is worth noting that in the first period of 2007 the â€œfalse positivesâ€ occurred in 18 of the 32 departments of the country; in the second period they occurred in 15 departments.
- According to department of incidents (see map), in the first half of 2007 the greatest number of cases were reported in Meta, particularly in the town of Vistahermosa; the second greatest number of cases was in the department of Huila, with the largest number in the town of Garzon; and the third greatest occurrence was in Norte de Santander. During the second half Norte de Santander had the greatest number of cases, with the town of Teorama reporting the most incidents; Antioquia was in second place with the department of Tolima in third.
- In relation with the previous period, July 2006 â€“ June 2007, cases appear in new departments such as Tolima, Bolivar, Quindio, Cordoba, and Risaralda.
- During the second half of 2007, a considerable increase in cases was reported in the department of Huila (13 in total), which only had reported two cases in the July 2006 â€“ June 2007 report. This is due to the fact that in the aforementioned report the information of the 11 cases in Huila was not available, but were later announced and published as updates in the journal Noche y Niebla 36, pages 25-28.
- It is important to note that in the department of Meta, where 24 cases were recorded in the period between July 2006 â€“ June 2007, only two more cases were reported in the second half of 2007. On the other hand, the department of Antioquia, which had reported three cases in the first report, reported nine new cases in the second half of 2007, while the department of Norte de Santander increased by three cases in the same period of time. However, although Norte de Santander went from having 8 reported cases to 11, the number of victims was reduced from 17 to 11.