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Statement of José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director
Americas Division, Human Rights Watch
Given before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere
House Committee on International Relations
Room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building
Thursday, September 21, 2000

Chairman Gallegly, Representative Ackerman, Members of the Subcommittee:

It is a pleasure to be with you today. Thank you for inviting me to convey to the Subcommittee our concerns about the human rights situation in Colombia and the implications of U.S. security assistance. I know the Subcommittee is most interested in an exchange, so my remarks will be brief. I would also like to submit, for the record, a copy of my written testimony, which includes what we consider to be the key benchmarks to evaluate the compliance of the Colombian government with the human rights conditions included in Public Law 106-246. These benchmarks represent a joint effort that included Amnesty International and the Washington Office on Latin America.

To summarize, the human rights situation in Colombia remains serious, with abuses committed by all sides. The armed forces, paramilitaries, and guerrillas continue to ignore international humanitarian law and fight this war by mainly attacking civilians, not combatants. For every combatant killed in this war, two civilians die, a situation that appears to be worsening, not improving.

Unfortunately, we continue to receive credible and well documented information from a variety of sources indicating that the Armed Forces, in particular the military, has yet to break long standing ties to the paramilitary groups that are responsible for most human rights violations, including massacres and the mutilations of bodies. In addition, the two major guerrilla groups have refused to abide by international law. Two of the newest tactics merit special rebuke: the use of gas cylinder bombs in attacks on police barracks and paramilitary bases, a weapon that is inherently inaccurate and responsible for dozens of civilian casualties; and the practice of mass kidnaping, the seizure of large groups of civilians to hold for ransom or political concessions.

Human Rights Watch remains convinced that the most important way that the United States can contribute to improving human rights protections in Colombia is to enforce strict conditions on all military aid. Enforcement of the conditions contained in Public Law 106-246 would have contributed greatly to improving human rights protection, in my opinion. In essence, these conditions obligate Colombia’s leaders to enforce existing laws by ensuring that cases involving alleged human rights abuses by members of the armed forces be prosecuted in civilian, not military courts, where impunity has been the rule. The conditions also require Colombia to combat illegal paramilitary groups, a goal that would greatly fortify democracy.

Some Administration officials have claimed that the Colombian government lacked sufficient time to implement human rights conditions. That is incorrect. Indeed, these conditions reflect the literally hundreds of recommendations made over several years to Colombia by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Organization of American States, and human rights groups like Human Rights watch. As I said, they essentially tell Colombia to enforce its own laws, laws that have been on the books since at least 1997 and, in the case of paramilitaries, since 1989. Time is not the problem; political will is.

Lamentably, by waiving most of these conditions, the Administration has converted the clear will of the U.S. Congress into empty rhetoric. Without enforcement, these conditions are worse than meaningless. The waiver demonstrates to the worst elements within Colombia’s armed forces that atrocities will continue to go unpunished if there is a single-minded imperative to fight drugs. But the lawlessness of Colombia’s war is not divorced from drug trafficking; to the contrary, by seeking that all laws be enforced, including the ones that protect human rights, the United States would contribute significantly to the strength of civilian society and its ability to defend democracy against the rule of the gun or machete.

I call on the Subcommittee to reassert its commitment to human rights by compelling the United States government to enforce these conditions. Specifically, I urge you eliminate the waiver authority through legislation. Human rights should never be considered a minor or secondary goal of U.S. foreign policy. Reflecting the ideals of this nation, human rights should be the centerpiece. Secondly, I respectfully request that you adopt the benchmarks that I have submitted to the Subcommittee as a way to measure the Colombian government’s compliance with the conditions in Public Law 106-246. If these conditions remain unmet when aid is ready to be obligated for FY 2001, I urge you to insist to the Administration that Congress will not tolerate another waiver, a weak certification, and more impunity for abusers in uniform.

Overview

So far this year, there has been little progress beyond rhetoric supporting a negotiated end to Colombia’s prolonged conflict this year. Both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC) and the Camilist Union-National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, UC-ELN) sent delegations to Europe in government-approved efforts to further talks. Yet in Colombia, individuals who spoke out in favor of peace and protection for civilians were eliminated relentlessly by all sides, advancing the turmoil of war.

Colombia’s military continued to be implicated in serious human rights violations as well as support for the paramilitary groups considered responsible for almost 80 per cent of the human rights violations recorded in the first nine months of 2000. Repeatedly, troops attacked indiscriminately and killed civilians, among them six elementary school children on a field trip near Pueblo Rico, Antioquia, on August 15. According to witnesses, soldiers fired for forty minutes, ignoring the screams of the adult chaperones.

Even as he lamented the deaths, Gen. Jorge Mora, commander of the Colombian Army, seemed to justify them by telling journalists, “these are the risks of the war we are engaged in.” The Army’s claim that guerrillas had used the children as human shields was dismissed by witnesses, who said that there had been no guerrillas present.

There continued to be abundant, detailed, and continuing reports of open collaboration between Colombia’s military and paramilitary groups. For example, government investigators believe that active duty and reserve army officers attached to the Third Brigade in Cali set up and actively supported the Calima Front, which continued to operate in Valle del Cauca. In the twelve months since July 1999, when it began operation, the Calima Front was considered responsible for at least 200 killings and the displacement of over 10,000 Colombians.

In a particularly shocking incident, on February 18, an estimated 300 armed men belonging to the Peasant Self-Defense Force of Córdoba and Urabá (Autodefensas Campesinas de Córdoba y Urabá, ACCU) set up a kangaroo court in the village of El Salado, Bolívar, and for the next two days tortured, garrotted, stabbed, decapitated, and shot residents. Witnesses told investigators that the men tied a six-year-old girl to a pole and suffocated her with a plastic bag. One woman was reportedly gang-raped. Authorities later confirmed thirty-six dead. Thirty remain unaccounted for. “To them, it was like a big party,” a survivor told the New York Times. “They drank and danced and cheered as they butchered us like hogs.”

Meanwhile, the Colombian Navy’s First Brigade maintained roadblocks around El Salado that prevented representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and others from entering. At one point, residents told investigators, a military helicopter evacuated a wounded paramilitary, but did not stop the slaughter. Thirty minutes after paramilitaries had safely withdrawn with looted goods and animals, Navy soldiers entered the village.

Officers implicated in serious abuses remained on active duty, and only in exceptional cases were they transferred after intense international pressure. In numerous cases, military judges ignored a 1997 Constitutional Court decision mandating that cases involving soldiers accused of human rights violations be prosecuted in civilian courts.

The Superior Judicial Council (Consejo Superior de la Judicatura, CSJ), charged with resolving these disputes, continued to demonstrate clear bias in favor of the military. For that reason, on June 2, 2000, the Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared (Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos-Colombia, ASFADDES), the Citizenry Alive Corporation (Corporación Viva la Ciudadania), and the Colombian Commission of Jurists (Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, CCJ) filed a petition calling on President Pastrana to use his powers to order the Armed Forces to cease disputing these cases.

Defense Minister Luis Ramírez responded by arguing that military tribunals had already transferred 533 cases to civilian jurisdiction., demonstrating, he claimed, compliance. However, after review, Human Rights Watch found that only thirty-nine related in some way to crimes that could be construed as human rights violations, like murder. Most involved low-ranking sergeants and lieutenants, and none were senior officials who may have ordered or orchestrated gross violations.

In one notorious case, the two soldiers who murdered Colombian senator Manuel Cepeda on August 9, 1994, remained on active duty until human rights groups protested in 1999. Press reports indicated that as late as July 1999, Sergeants Hernando Medina Camacho and Justo Gil Zúñiga Labrador moved freely about Colombia and continued to work in military intelligence despite the fact that the Attorney General had issued arrest warrants against them. A Colombian judge found them guilty of murder in December, 1999. Others alleged human rights violators have simply walked out of the military facilities where they were reported to be detained.

The Colombian government claimed dramatic improvement in its record against paramilitaries. Upon inspection, however, improvement was illusory. Most arrest warrants issued by the Attorney General remained unexecuted due to military inaction. The few arrests claimed were mainly low-ranking fighters. Meanwhile, leaders remain at large and collect warrants like badges of honor. As of this writing, there are twenty-two outstanding arrest warrants against Carlos Castaño, for massacres, killings, and the kidnaping of human rights defenders and a Colombian senator.

Although the government of Colombia has repeatedly claimed that it has special search units (Bloques de Búsqueda) to target paramilitary groups, in fact these groups are little more than paper tigers that vanish once the press conference is concluded. One such group, the “Coordination Center for the Fight against Self-Defense Groups,” formed with much fanfare on February 25, 2000, has never met.

Violence was particularly acute in northeastern Colombia, where the UC-ELN tried to win government support for a territory to hold what they called a National Convention on social change in the municipalities of San Pablo, Cantagallo, and Yondó. Thousands of civilians protested, fearful of guerrilla abuses, paramilitary retaliation, and more war. At the same time, the area was increasingly controlled by advancing paramilitaries apparently tolerated by the Colombian military. A report by the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, government representatives, and human rights groups found that over 3,700 people in the region had been forcibly displaced over the first three months of the year and dozens had been murdered.

Although Castaño often announced plans for massacres publicly and well in advance, military commanders established a clear pattern of failing to deploy troops to protect civilians, even when local authorities directly informed them about imminent threats. Authorities also received reliable and detailed information about the location of permanent paramilitary bases, yet failed to act against them, contributing to an atmosphere of chaos and terror.

Castaño, who claims 11,200 armed and trained fighters, continued to maintain numerous and permanent bases and roadblocks and moved himself and his troops with apparent ease, employing computers, the Internet, radios, and satellite telephones to prepare death lists and coordinate massacres. In an unprecedented hour-length television interview in March, Castaño described himself as the “fighting arm of the middle class.”

There was limited progress on human rights protection. On January 13, President Pastrana signed the Ottawa Convention and promised to rid the country of an estimated 50,000 land mines. After languishing for twelve years, a bill criminalizing forced disappearance, torture, and forced displacement was passed by the Congress in May. A few cases that had long languished in impunity were reopened.

Nevertheless, the Colombian Army continued to lash out at human rights and defenders. Army chief Gen. Jorge Mora characterized an government investigation into alleged army collusion in a massacre as a “persecution that affects the morale of the troops. Hundreds of cases that should have been transferred to civilian jurisdiction remained shielded in military tribunals.

Guerrilla abuses

Even as the FARC entertained foreign dignitaries, journalists, U.N. officials, and Wall Street billionaires in the five southern Colombia municipalities ceded to them to promote peace talks, they murdered civilians, executed armed force and rival guerrilla combatants after surrender, threatened civilians who refused to provide them with information used to extort money, took hostages, and forced thousands of Colombians to flee. The group maintained an estimated seventy battle fronts throughout Colombia estimated to include at least 17,000 trained, uniformed, and armed members.

In dozens of attacks, the FARC used methods that caused avoidable civilian casualties, including the use of gas cannisters packed with gunpowder and shrapnel and launched as bombs. In an attack on Vigía del Fuerte, Antioquia, in March, FARC-launched cannisters left the town a virtual ruin. Witnesses told journalists that some of the twenty-one police agents who died were executed by the FARC, among them several who had sought medical attention in the local hospital.

After a June mission, Human Rights Watch found evidence that the FARC may have executed at least twenty-six residents since taking control in 1998, more than double the official count taken by the office of Colombia’s Public Advocate. In addition, sixteen others were reported missing. The FARC publicly acknowledged only eleven executions, claiming their victims had been paramilitary supporters, but observers believed the number was significantly higher. The Public Advocate reported that at least twenty children had been recruited.

In an interview with Human Rights Watch in Los Pozos, Caquetá, FARC commander Simón Trinidad dismissed international humanitarian law as “a bourgeois concept.”

Rarely is there confirmation that FARC members who commit violations are punished. To the contrary, the few cases the FARC admits show that punishment amounts to little more than a slap on the hand and rarely extends to the commanders who order or cover up killings. For example, the two guerrillas who killed Americans Terence Freitas, Lahe'ena'e Gay, and Ingrid Washinawatok on March 5, 1999, were eventually sentenced to construct fifty meters of trench and clear land.

The UC-ELN tried to generate parallel talks, and even negotiated the temporary release of jailed leaders to take part in July talks in Geneva, Switzerland. However, talks appeared to bring little hope of a settlement and the group’s estimated 1,500 fighters were increasingly pressed in the field by offensives launched by the armed forces, paramilitaries, and rival FARC units.

Far from respecting dissent, the UC-ELN threatened groups that supported humanitarian accords meant to protect civilians, among them Conciudadanía and Children, Planters of Peace (Niños, Sembrando Semillas de Paz), both based in Antioquia. Guerrillas also targeted civilian infrastructure to protest government peace and economic policies, a violation of international humanitarian law. Since 1999, guerrillas have blasted over 300 high-voltage power pylons, at one point leaving a third of Colombia in the dark. The group continued attacks on oil pipelines, and for prolonged periods prevented transit on vital roads, converting thousands of detained travelers into de facto human shields against army counterattack.

In areas where control was contested and around its camps, the UC-ELN continued to use land mines.

Both the FARC and UC-ELN continued to kidnap civilians for ransom or political concessions, a violation of international humanitarian law. According to the País Libre, an independent group that tracks kidnaping, guerrillas were responsible for an estimated 517 kidnapings in the first three months of this year, up from 1999. Paramilitaries also carried out 48 kidnapings, an increase of 45 per cent over the previous year. Most kidnapings, however, were unreported, since families fear risking the lives of their loved ones by going public.

In April, FARC commander Jorge Briceño announced that all Colombians worth over $1 million should pay the FARC a “peace tax” or risk being taken hostage. Some hostages, including a three-year-old and a nine-year-old, were kept in the area reserved for government talks. As of this writing, three passengers seized on an Avianca flight on April 12, 1999, remained in UC-ELN custody, used as bargaining chips to force the government into concessions. Families of civilians kidnapped by the FARC confirmed that the group uses the area to hold at least some of its ransom targets, among them a three-year-old and a nine-year-old.

Forced displacement remained acute. In a report on a 1999 mission, Francis Deng, representative of the U.N. Secretary-General on internally displaced persons, called Colombia’s situation “among the gravest in the world... displacement in Colombia is not merely incidental to the armed conflict but is also a deliberate strategy of war.”

According to the U.S. Committee for Refugees, there are at least 1.8 million forcibly displaced people in Colombia and between 80,000 and 105,000 Colombians living as unacknowledged refugees on Colombia’s borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panamá. Colombia is now third behind Sudan and Angola in terms of displaced population.

Although Law 387, passed in 1997, outlined a broad and comprehensive plan to assist the forcibly displaced, it had yet to be effectively implemented by the end of 2000. Indeed, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled in August that the state had failed to enforce the law and was in violation of its duties. However, it appeared unlikely that even this unusual decision could substitute for the political will necessary to address the problem.

Defending Human Rights

Five defenders were killed in the first nine months of 2000. Threats were particularly acute in the oil-refining city of Barrancabermeja, long the home of a vibrant and broad-based human rights movement. On July 11, ASFADES member Elizabeth Cañas -- whose son and brother had been seized by paramilitaries in 1998 and have yet to be found -- was shot and killed in Barrancabermeja. By September, dozens of human rights defenders and trade unionists had received death threats. Almost all appeared to be the work of the paramilitary groups who vowed to “sip coffee” in guerrilla-controlled neighborhoods by December.

The Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (Corporación Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CREDHOS) received eleven telephone death threats in less than a month. At the same time, its members were featured on a death list circulated in the city in September; a trade unionist on the list was murdered in July, a lawyer remained in critical condition after an attack, and another lawyer had fled Colombia.

Demetrio Playonero, a displaced person and human rights leader, was murdered by presumed paramilitaries on March 31. After shooting him in the head in front of his wife at his farm outside Yondó, Antioquia, the gunmen breakfasted, then stole all of the cattle. In May, defender Jesús Ramiro Zapata, the only remaining member of the Segovia Human Rights Committee, was killed near Segovia..

Government prosecutor Margarita María Pulgarín Trujillo, part of a team developing cases linking paramilitaries to the army and regional drug traffickers, was murdered in Medellín on April 3, apparently because of her work. Several of her colleagues had already fled Colombia because of death threats from a gang of hired killers known as “La Terraza,” a close ally of Carlos Castaño.

Journalists continued to be attacked and threatened for their work. In one particularly brutal incident, El Espectador reporter Jineth Bedoya was abducted on May 25 by paramilitaries from La Modelo prison, where she had planned to interview a jailed paramilitary leader. After the photographer and the editor she was with stepped away, Bedoya was abducted from the prison lobby in full view of the guards, drugged, bound and gagged, and driven to a

city about three hours away. There she was beaten, tortured and raped by four men who accused her of being a guerrilla sympathizer. Before kicking her out of their car that night at a local garbage dump, the men told her they had plans to kill three other journalists.

Other journalists faced threats by the FARC for their work. In January, FARC commander Manuel Marulanda Vélez told reporters that they had been unfair to his group and would have to pay. At the time, the FARC was holding seventy-three year old journalist Guillermo “La Chiva” Cortes hostage; Cortes was later rescued. Other journalists who wrote frequently about the war, including Francisco Santos of El Tiempo and Ignacio Gómez of El Espectador, left the country because of threats.

Cases involving the killings of human rights defenders, among them the 1996 killing of Josué Giraldo Cardona; the 1997 killings of Mario Calderón, Elsa Alvarado, and Carlos Alvarado; the 1998 killings of Jesús Valle Jaramillo and Eduardo Umaña Mendoza; and the 1999 killing of Julio González and Everardo de Jesús Puerta remained either in investigation or with only the material authors of the crimes identified or under arrest. In all cases, the people who planned and paid for the killings remain at large.

Members of the Colombian military continued to make public statements accusing civilian institutions of having been infiltrated by the guerrillas and questioning the legitimacy of their investigations. The Colombian Armed Forces General Command maintained on its official Web Site a text that directly accused Human Rights Watch and the U.S. embassy’s human rights officer of forming part of a “strange and shameful alliance” with a criminal drug trafficking cartel.” After the release of “The Ties That Bind: Colombia and Military-Paramilitary Links,” Gen. Fernando Tapias, Colombia’s commander in chief, and Gen. Jorge Mora, Army commander, echoed this rhetoric by suggesting that Human Rights Watch was in the pay of drug traffickers.

Implications of U.S. security assistance

As required by law, the State Department held consultative meetings with non- governmental organizations (NGOs) in both Washington, D.C. and Bogotá, Colombia prior to making a determination on the conditions included in Public Law 106-246. On August 17 and 18, various human rights organizations, including the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, met with officials of the State Department and other US governmental departments and agencies in Washington, D.C. to discuss Colombia’s compliance with these conditions.

It was our unanimous conclusion that there was overwhelming evidence demonstrating that Colombia had not met these conditions.

Subsequently, the State Department issued one certification, of Section 3201 1 (A) (i). On August 22, President Clinton invoked Section 4 of the law, waiving the remaining six conditions on the grounds of U.S. national security interests even as American officials admitted that Colombia’s military maintained ties to paramilitary groups, had failed to suspend or prosecute implicated officers, and refused to enforce civilian jurisdiction over human rights crimes. “You don' t hold up the major objective to achieve the minor,” said a spokesperson for the office of White House adviser and drug czar Gen. (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and WOLA protested both the decision to certify Section 3201 (1) (A) (i) and to waive the remaining human rights conditions.

The single certification issued by the State Department came after President Pastrana signed a directive based on the entrance into law of the new Military Penal Code. Human Rights Watch believes this directive complied only partially with U.S. law, so should have resulted in a denial of certification.

The Directive erroneously suggests that Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled in 1997 that only crimes against humanity (lesa humanidad) allegedly committed by members of the Armed Forces should go before civilian courts, and that those crimes were limited to torture, forced disappearance and forced displacement. In fact, the Court went much further, and included crimes of “unusual seriousness” (inusitada gravedad) that include gross violation of human rights. This would include extrajudicial executions and the aiding and abetting of paramilitary groups, the most common abuses linked to members of the Armed Forces. Therefore, the directive fell well short of the law, which called on the President of Colombia to direct in writing that Colombian Armed Forces personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights (emphasis added) will be brought to justice in Colombia’s civilian courts, in accordance with the 1997 ruling of Colombia’s Constitutional court regarding civilian court jurisdiction in human rights cases.

In granting the waiver, Clinton not only makes the United States complicit in on-going abuses but risks converting a failed drug war into a disastrous human rights policy. It is the wrong decision at the wrong time. The waiver demonstrates to the worst elements that remain on active duty in Colombia’s armed forces that reprehensible behavior will continue to go unpunished.

BENCHMARKS

CONDITION (A)(i): Civilian Court Jurisdiction

This condition requires:

(A) (i) the President of Colombia has directed in writing that Colombian Armed Forces personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights will be brought to justice in Colombia’s civilian courts, in accordance with the 1997 ruling of Colombia’s Constitutional court regarding civilian court jurisdiction in human rights cases;

BENCHMARKS:

The following benchmarks should be achieved before the U.S. Secretary of State issues a certification of the Colombian government’s compliance with this condition:

A. A written directive should be sent by the President of Colombia to the Commander General of the Armed Forces ordering members of the armed forces to cease disputing jurisdiction of cases involving military personnel who are credibly alleged to have ordered, committed or acquiesced in gross violations of human rights, including by aiding or abetting of paramilitary activities, whether directly or by "omission."

CONDITION (A)(ii): Suspension of Military Officers

This condition requires the Secretary of State to certify that:

"(A)(ii) the Commander General of the Colombian Armed Forces is promptly suspending from duty any Colombian Armed Forces personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights or to have aided or abetted paramilitary groups;"

BENCHMARKS:

The following benchmarks should be achieved before the Secretary of State issues a certification on the Colombian government’s compliance with this condition:

A. The United States should require the suspension of members of the security forces within twenty four hours of the presentation of credible evidence of gross violations of human rights or international humanitarian law; the aiding and abetting of paramilitary groups; or their being formally charged by the Attorney General (Fiscalía) as suspects in alleged human rights crimes or the aiding and abetting of paramilitary groups.

B. The United States should obtain a list of the names and ranks of military personnel who have been suspended from duty since August 1997 as a result of credible allegations that they committed gross violations of human rights or aided or abetted paramilitary groups, together with the dates of their suspension. The U.S. Embassy should update this list at three-month intervals and distribute it to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification.

C. The United States should obtain a list of names and ranks of military personnel who have not been suspended from duty since August 1997 despite credible allegations that they committed gross violations of human rights or aided or abetted paramilitary groups. The U.S. Embassy should update this list at three-month intervals and distribute it to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification.

D. In particular, the United States should ensure that the following individuals are or have been suspended, pending investigations and, as appropriate, prosecution for their alleged involvement in gross violations of human rights and paramilitary activities:

1. General Rodrigo Quiñónes, Commander, Navy’s 1st Brigade: Colombian government investigators linked Quiñónes to at least 57 murders of trade unionists, human rights workers, and community leaders in 1991 and 1992, when he was head of Navy Intelligence and ran Network 3, based in Barrancabermeja. A military tribunal decided that there was insufficient evidence against him, but he has not been brought to trial in the civilian justice system. The only people to be convicted for these crimes were two civilian employees of Naval Intelligence Network No. 7, one of whom was later murdered in prison. In his ruling on the case, the civilian judge stated that he was “perplexed” by the military tribunal’s acquittals of Quiñónes and others, since he considered the evidence against them to be “irrefutable.” “With [this acquittal] all that [the military] does is justify crime, since the incidents and the people responsible for committing them are more than clear.” This judge also discounted the military’s contention that Quiñónes was the victim of a smear campaign by drug traffickers, concluding that there was no evidence to support this claim. To the contrary, he concluded that evidence linking Quiñónes to the Barrancabermeja atrocities was clear and compelling.

The only punishment meted out to Quiñónes so far has been a “severe reprimand” ordered by the Procuraduría General de la Nación, which concluded that he was responsible for the deaths. In a disputable interpretation of existing norms, the Procuraduría has determined that murder is not classified as an administrative infraction in the existing regulations. Therefore, the maximum punishment it can impose for murder is a “severe reprimand,” essentially a letter in an employment file. It is important to note that the Procuraduría itself has termed this absurd punishment “embarrassingly insignificant, both within the national sphere and before the international community.” Quiñónes is also the officer in charge of the region at the time of the February 2000 massacre in El Salado (Bolívar). Military and police units stationed nearby failed to stop the killing and established roadblocks which prevented human rights and relief groups from entering the town. Quiñónes was promoted to General in June 2000.

2. General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, Commander, 4th Division: Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office has documented extensive ties between the 4th Brigade and paramilitary groups between 1997 and 1999, while General Ospina was in command. Among the cases that implicate Ospina is the October 1997 El Aro massacre. Government documents show that a joint army-paramilitary force surrounded the village and maintained a perimeter while about 25 paramilitaries entered the town, rounded up residents, and executed four people.

3. Brigadier General Jaime Ernesto Canal Albán, Commander, 3rd Brigade: Colombian government investigators found evidence that, in 1999, while Brig. Gen. Canal Albán was in command, the 3rd Brigade set up a paramilitary group and provided them with weapons and intelligence.

4. General Jaime Humberto Cortés Parada, Inspector General of the Army: The Attorney General collected compelling and abundant evidence indicating that under his command at the 3rd Division, the Army’s 3rd Brigade set up a “paramilitary” group in the department of Valle del Cauca, in southern Colombia. Investigators were able to link the group to active duty, retired, and reserve military officers and the ACCU in Barranquilla, Atlántico (See below); and

5. General Freddy Padilla León, Commander of the II Division, and Colonel Gustavo Sánchez Gutiérrez, Army Personnel Director: In July 2000, the press widely reported that the Procuraduría formally charged (pliego de cargos) General Jaime Humberto Cortés Parada and these two officers with “omission” in connection with the massacre in Puerto Alvira in June 1997. Two other generals who also face disciplinary charges, for “omission” - Generals Jaime Humberto Uscátegui and Agustín Ardila Uribe - are already retired.

E. If it is found after extensive review that the military lacks the legal power to impose suspensions required by this condition, the United States should require that the president of Colombia sign a decree authorizing these suspensions and implement it fully and without delay.

CONDITION (A)(iii): Compliance with Conditions by Armed Forces

This condition requires that:

"(A) (iii) the Colombian Armed Forces and its Commander General are fully complying with (A) (i) and (ii);

BENCHMARKS:

A. The U.S. government should obtain from the Colombian government a list of all cases since August 1997 in which military judges have challenged jurisdiction in cases being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office involving gross human rights violations or the aiding and abetting of paramilitary activities, including the charges, the rank of the individuals charged, and the decision of the Superior Judicial Council. The U.S. Embassy should update this list at three- month intervals, and distribute it promptly to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification.

B. The U.S. government should obtain a list of military personnel brought to justice in Colombia’s civilian courts since August 1997, including the names and ranks of these personnel, details of the charges brought, and the disposition of the cases. The U.S. Embassy should update this list at three-month intervals, and distribute it promptly to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification.

C. The Colombian military should transfer the cases involving the officers named below to the appropriate civilian authorities for investigation and prosecution:

1. General (ret.) Fernando Millán, former Commander, 5th Brigade: The Attorney General opened an investigation against General Millán based on evidence that he set up the Las Colonias CONVIVIR in Lebrija, Santander, while he commanded the Fifth Brigade. The Las Colonias CONVIVIR operated throughout 1997 without a license but with army support, according to the testimony of former members. According to residents and victims’ families, the group committed at least fifteen targeted killings before the director, “Commander Cañón,” a retired army officer, and the employees he hired were arrested and prosecuted under Decree 1194, which prohibits the formation of paramilitary groups. Among the cases currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office are those of two Protestants, brothers Oscar and Armando Beltrán Correa, who were taken captive by the Las Colonias CONVIVIR as they went to work on July 29, 1997 and killed on the road leading from Lebrija to the hamlet of La Puente. Apparently, the CONVIVIR accused them of passing information to the guerrillas. On September 4, 1997, father and son Leonardo and José Manuel Cadena were forced out of their home by CONVIVIR members and killed, according to a family member’s testimony to the Attorney General’s Office. The CONVIVIR apparently accused the Cadenas of providing food to guerrillas. According to a former CONVIVIR member who was also an army informant, during its months of operation, the Las Colonias CONVIVIR frequently went on operations with army units, setting up roadblocks and detaining suspected guerrillas and criminals. When the Attorney General’s Office investigated this case, the army high command prevented prosecutors from questioning Millán, then interposed a jurisdictional dispute, claiming that since Millán was on active service and carrying out his official duties, the case should be tried before a military tribunal. Following a decision by the CSJ, the case was transferred to the military justice system in October 1998. A prosecutor assigned to investigate the May 1998 massacre of 11 people in Barrancabermeja fled the country after receiving threats from General Millán, then-Commander of the 5th Brigade. Nine members of the military and police were disciplined in connection with the massacre, but there have been no prosecutions under civilian jurisdiction. General Millán has not been brought to justice in the civilian justice system.

2. Major Jesús María Clavijo, 4th Brigade: In March 2000, Major Clavijo was relieved of his command pending the outcome of his trial on charges of helping form and direct paramilitary groups during his service with the 4th Brigade. Eyewitnesses have linked Clavijo and other 4th Brigade officers to paramilitaries through regular meetings held on military bases. An investigation by the Procuraduría listed hundreds of cellular telephone and beeper communications between known paramilitaries and 4th Brigade officers, among them Clavijo. On May 11, 2000, the Attorney General received a jurisdictional dispute from the military judge handling the case. The case is now pending before the CSJ.

3. General (ret.) Jaime Uscátegui, 7th Brigade: Dozens of civilians were killed by paramilitaries and hundreds were forced to flee for their lives from Mapiripán, Meta, in July 1997. For five days, paramilitaries acting with the support of the army detained residents and people arriving by boat, took them to the local slaughterhouse, then bound, tortured, and executed them by slitting their throats. Local army and police units ignored repeated phone calls from a civilian judge in the area seeking to stop the slayings. At least two bodies -- those of Sinaí Blanco, a boatman, and Ronald Valencia, the airstrip manager -- were decapitated. Judge Leonardo Iván Cortés reported hearing the screams of people who had been taken to the slaughterhouse to be interrogated, tortured, and killed. In one message that he sent to various regional authorities while the massacre was in progress, he wrote: “Each night they kill groups of five to six defenseless people, who are cruelly and monstrously massacred after being tortured. The screams of humble people are audible, begging for mercy and asking for help.” Hundreds of people fled the region. They included Judge Cortés, who was forced to leave Colombia with his family because of threats on his life.

Subsequent investigations revealed that troops under the command of Uscátegui, then in charge of the 7th Brigade, assisted the paramilitaries during their arrival at the nearest airport, and made sure that troops with the capability to combat paramilitaries were engaged elsewhere. In an attempt to cover up his responsibility, Uscátegui tried to falsify documents reporting the massacre. As a result of their internal investigation, the army moved Gen. Uscátegui to administrative duties for failing to act promptly to stop the massacre and detain those responsible. However, the CSJ later ruled that the case involved an “act of omission” and belonged before a military court. Uscátegui has since retired, and has yet to be prosecuted before a civilian court. However, the military has reopened the case and announced that Uscátegui will be brought before a Consejo de Guerra on charges of “homicidio,” “prevaricación por omisión,” and “falsedad en documento” for the Mapiripán massacre. Uscátegui has been re-arrested and is being held in the 13th Brigade.

4. General (ret.) Alberto Bravo Silva, Commander, 5th Brigade: According to Colombia’s Public Advocate, on May 29, 1999, paramilitaries killed at least 20 people and abducted up to fifteen more in La Gabarra (Norte de Santander). General Bravo was repeatedly informed of the subsequent threats and the ensuing massacres, but did not act to prevent them or to pursue the perpetrators effectively once the massacre had taken place. He was relieved of duty, but has not been prosecuted in a civilian court for his alleged role in aiding and abetting this atrocity.

5. General (ret.) Rito Alejo del Río, 17th Brigade: An investigation was opened by Attorney General in 1998 into Del Río’s support and tolerance for paramilitary activity in the Urabá region in 1996 and 1997 while he was commander of the 17th Brigade. According to reports made by Colonel (ret.) Carlos Velásquez, his chief of staff, to his superiors in 1996, that Del Río supported paramilitaries in Urabá, and maintained a relationship with a retired army major who worked with paramilitaries. Instead of prompting a serious investigation of Del Río, the reports prompted the army to investigate Velásquez, in an apparent attempt to silence him. The army concluded the inquiry by recommending not that Gen. del Río, who was later promoted, be punished, but that Colonel Velásquez be disciplined for “insubordination, [acts] against duty and esprit de corps.” Velásquez was forced to retire on January 1, 1997.

Recent press reports indicate that an investigation was opened by the Attorney General against Generals del Río and Fernando Millán in August 2000. According to these reports, prosecutors charge that they attempted to present false witnesses to the Attorney General to claim that a prominent trade unionist and a human rights defender had paid witnesses to denounce del Río and Millán as having ties to paramilitaries. These reports suggest that the Attorney General suspects that, in fact, an army “informant” in league with Del Rio and Millán paid the two false witnesses to lie to authorities.

6. General (ret.) Farouk Yanine Díaz: Gen. Yanine was arrested in October 1996 for alleged complicity in the massacre of 19 merchants in the Middle Magdalena region in 1987. Eyewitnesses, including a military officer, testified that he supported paramilitaries who carried out the massacre and had operated in the area since 1984, when Yanine was commander of the 14th Brigade in Puerto Berrio. The paramilitary leader also testified that Gen. Yanine had paid him a large sum to carry out the killing. Yanine also allegedly provided paramilitaries with the intelligence necessary to intercept their victims. Despite compelling evidence, General Manuel José Bonnet, then the army commander, closed the case citing a lack of evidence. The Procuraduría appealed the decision on the grounds that “evidence presented against Yanine Díaz had not been taken into account [the sentence] clearly deviates from the evidence presented in this case.” The U.S. State Department expressed concern about the acquittal on July 1, 1997.

7. General Rodrigo Quiñónes, Commander, Navy’s First Brigade: (See benchmarks above, under Condition (A)(ii).

8. General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, Commander, 4th Division: (See above).

9. Brigadier General Jaime Ernesto Canal Albán, Commander, 3rd Brigade: (See above).

The following cases should also be transferred to civilian jurisdiction:

1. Massacres at Trujillo (Valle del Cauca): Dozens of people were killed in the municipality of Trujillo over a several year period in the late 1980s and early 90s. On December 20, 1990, the 3rd Brigade dropped charges that had been leveled against Major Alirio Antonio Urueña Jaramillo. The sitting president later cashiered him on human rights grounds. Further cases arising from the Trujillo killings remain in military courts. The paramilitary leader widely reported to have participated, Henry Loaiza Ceballo, “El Alacrán,” is not known to have been convicted for his role in this case.

2. Massacre at El Caloto (Cauca): This massacre, in which twenty members of Paez indigenous community were killed, was carried out on December 16, 1992 by the Judicial Police. The case was transferred to military jurisdiction at the end of 1997 and charges against the implicated officials were dropped.

3. Massacre at Riofrío (Valle del Cauca): Thirteen people were killed in the village of El Bosque, in the Municipality of Riofrío on October 5, 1993 by men in uniforms and ski masks. The victims were presented as combat deaths by Battalion Palacé of the 3rd Brigade, based in Cali. The case was initially transferred to the military court system by a 1994 CSJ decision. A civilian judge then requested that the military justice system transfer to him the portion of the case brought against several military officials. The military justice system refused to grant the transfer, and the matter returned to the CSJ. In July 1998, the CSJ refused to decide the conflict on the grounds that it had already decided the jurisdictional question in 1994.

4. Blanquicet: On September 22, 1993, in the rural district of Blanquicet, municipality of Turbo, in Urabá, Antioquia department, members of the Colombian army killed Carlos Manuel Prada and Evelio Bolano, members of the armed opposition group Socialist Renovation Current, (Corriente de Renovación Socialista, CRS) who had been acting as peace negotiators. The CRS later demobilized. An army captain, sergeant, and several soldiers, were acquitted by the military justice system. This decision was appealed by the lawyers acting for the families and by the CRS on jurisdictional grounds, and they requested the transfer of the case to the Attorney General in compliance with the Constitutional Court's ruling. The request was rejected but the rejection was appealed, whereupon the Tribunal Superior Militar confirmed the decision to deny the transfer. The Human Rights unit of the Fiscalía then requested the transfer of the case on jurisdictional grounds, and it is now before the CSJ. The case is also before the Inter- American Commission, which has agreed to a 'friendly settlement' on condition that the criminal investigation is transferred to the civilian justice system.

5. San José de Apartadó: On February 19 and July 8, 2000, alleged paramilitaries killed a total of eleven civilians in San José de Apartadó. According to eyewitnesses, personnel of the 17th Brigade were in the area at the time of both massacres and failed to prevent or stop the killings. An army helicopter allegedly belonging to the 17th Brigade hovered overhead at the time of the July 8 massacre.

6. El Aro: Colombian prosecutors collected evidence linking the 4th Brigade, under the command of General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, to the October 25, 1997, massacre committed by paramilitaries in El Aro. Government documents show that a joint army- paramilitary force surrounded the village and maintained a perimeter while about 25 paramilitaries entered the town, rounded up residents, and executed four people.

CONDITION (B): Cooperation with Civilian Authorities

This condition requires the Secretary of State to certify that:

(B) the Colombian Armed Forces are cooperating fully with civilian authorities in investigating, prosecuting, and punishing in the civilian courts Colombian Armed Forces personnel who are credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights;"

BENCHMARKS:

The following benchmarks should be achieved before the Secretary of State issues a certification on the Colombian government’s compliance with this condition:

A. The United States should insist upon the capture and effective detention of alleged material and intellectual authors of gross human rights violations against whom there are arrest warrants, including military officers.

B. The United States should obtain a list of outstanding arrest warrants issued by the Fiscalía relating to human rights cases. The U.S. Embassy should update it at three-month intervals, and distribute it promptly to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification. New cases should be included as well as developments in existing cases, in particular, whether the security forces are taking concrete measures to execute these warrants. The execution of arrest warrants should be sorted according to the security force units to which they refer.

C. The United States should require that Colombia take effective measures to protect civilian investigators and prosecutors from threats that impede their work.

D. There should be significant and measurable progress, including the execution of outstanding arrest warrants and the transfer to civilian courts of the prosecutions of implicated security force officers, of the following benchmark cases:

1. Alirio de Jesus Pedraza Becerra: Pedraza, a lawyer with the Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (Comité de Solidaridad con Presos Políticos, CSPP), was “disappeared” by eight heavily armed men on July 4, 1990. His whereabouts have never been determined. At the time, he was representing the family members of scores of peasants killed when the Luciano D’Eluyart Battalion opened fire on a protest march in 1988 in Llano Caliente, Santander. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

2. Blanca Cecilia Valero de Durán, CREDHOS: This human rights defender belonging to the Regional Human Rights Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (Comité Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CREDHOS) was shot and killed on January 29, 1992 in Barrancabemeja, Santander. The then Colonel Rodrigo Quiñones Cárdenas, director of intelligence for Colombian Navy Intelligence Network 7, was believed responsible for her murder and scores of other political killings by government investigators. Nevertheless, Quiñones was acquitted by a military tribunal, although the Fiscalía named him as the “unequivocal” intellectual author. He remains on active duty. Two people were convicted in the killing.

3. Oscar Elías López, CRIC: This human rights lawyer had been advising the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca, (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC). He was killed in Santander de Quilchao by heavily armed men on May 29, 1992.

4. Julio Cesar Berrio, CREDHOS: He was a security guard employed by CREDHOS, also involved in a CREDHOS investigation. Shot dead on June 28, 1992, allegedly by men working for Navy Intelligence Director Colonel Quiñones.

5. Ligia Patricia Cortez Colmenares, CREDHOS: Cortez, an investigator with CREDHOS, was killed on July 30,1992, alongside several union members. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

6. Jairo Barahona Martínez, Curumaní Human Rights Committee: This activist was killed on September 29, 1994 in Curumaní, Cesar following his abduction and torture. According to members of human rights organizations who collected information and pressed for a proper judicial investigation into the killing, members of the security forces were implicated in the assassination. No one has been brought to justice.

7. Ernesto Emilio Fernández, human rights defender: He was shot while driving home with his children on February 20, 1995. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

8. Javier Alberto Barriga Vergal, CSPP: This human rights lawyer was killed in Cucutá on June 16, 1995. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

9. Josué Giraldo Cardona, co-founder and president of the Meta Civic Committee for Human Rights: Giraldo was killed on October 13, 1996 after months of alleged harassment and threats by paramilitaries and military intelligence officers working for the 7th Brigade, then commanded by General Rodolfo Herrera Luna.

10. Elsa Alvarado and Mario Calderón, CINEP: Alvarado and Calderón were investigators with the Center for Research and Popular Education (Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP). On May 19, 1997 a group of masked gunmen forced their way into Alvarado and Calderón’s apartment, killing Elsa, Mario, and Elsa’s father. Although some material authors of the crime are under arrest, the intellectual authors remain at large. Arrest warrants have been issued for Fidel and Carlos Castaño as the intellectual authors of the killings.

11. Jesús María Valle Jaramillo, “Héctor Abad Gómez” Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights: Valle was assassinated on February 27, 1998 by unidentified gunmen, after repeatedly denouncing military / paramilitary links. Formal criminal charges were brought by the Attorney General’s office against paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño and eight others. Six paramilitaries are currently detained. Despite strong indications of military involvement in the crime, no formal investigation has been opened against military personnel.

12. Eduardo Umaña, human rights lawyer: Umaña was killed in Bogotá on April 18, 1998. Several alleged gunmen are either under arrest or wanted for extradition. Shortly before his murder he had denounced the role of a military intelligence unit in paramilitary activity and human rights violations. The intellectual authors remain at large.

13. Jorge Ortega, union leader: This union leader and human rights defender was killed in Bogotá on October 20, 1998. Two former police officers have been implicated in the attack and are in prison. However, the intellectual authors remain unidentified.

14. Everardo de Jesús Puertas and Julio Ernesto González, CSPP: Puertas and González, lawyers with the CSPP, were shot dead on January 30, 1999, as they traveled by bus from Medellín to Bogotá. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

15. Dario Betancourt, academic: Betancourt, a professor at Bogotá’s Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, was forcibly disappeared on May 2, 1999, and his body was found on September 2, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

16. Hernan Henao, academic: Henao, the Director of the University of Antioquia’s Regional Studies Institute, was killed on May 4, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

17. Guzmán Quintero Torres, journalist: Quintero, a journalist who had investigated reports of corruption within the Armed Forces, was killed on September 16, 1999, in Valledupar (Cesar). The Attorney General’s Office detained two paramilitaries allegedly involved in the killing, but the intellectual authors have not been identified.

18. Jesús Antonio Bejarano, academic: Bejarano, a former government official involved in the peace talks with the FARC, was killed on September 16, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

19. Alberto Sánchez Tovar and Luis Alberto Rincón Solano, journalists: Journalists Sánchez and Rincón were allegedly detained and executed by paramilitaries on November 28, 1999, in El Playón (Santander), while covering municipal elections. Three paramilitary gunmen have been arrested, but the intellectual authors remain unidentified.

20. Jairo Bedoya Hoyos, indigenous activist: Bedoya, a member of the Indigenous Organization of Antioquia (Organización Indígena de Antioquia, OIA), was abducted on March 2, 2000. There have been no arrests in this case.

21. Margarita Maria Pulgarín Trujillo, Fiscalía: Pulgarín, a prosecutor specializing in investigating links between the military and paramilitary groups, was killed in Medellín on April 3, 2000. No arrest warrants have been issued in this case.

22. Jesús Ramiro Zapata Hoyos, Segovia Human Rights Committee: Zapata, the leader of an umbrella organization of human rights groups, was abducted and killed on May 3, 2000 in Segovia, Antioquia. The day he was abducted, Zapata had reported to local authorities that paramilitaries had been seeking information on his whereabouts. Paramilitaries had occupied the area the month before.

23. Elizabeth Cañas Cano, Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared, ASFADDES: Cañas, an ASFADDES (Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos-Colombia) member, was shot dead near her office on June 11, 2000. She had lost relatives in the 1998 Barrancabermeja massacre. Witnesses to the massacre and other ASFADDES members are currently in grave danger of further attacks.

In addition, we call for progress on the following cases involving kidnappings, attacks, and death threats:

24. Jairo Bedoya, Olga Rodas, Jorge Salazar, and Claudia Tamayo, IPC: These four human rights workers belonging to the Institute for Popular Training (Instituto Popular de Capacitación, IPC) based in Medellín, Antioquia were abducted from their offices on January 28, 1999 by an armed gang. Several days later paramilitary commander Carlos Castaño claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, claiming the four as “prisoners of war.” He remains at large.

25. Piedad Córdoba de Castro, Senator: On May 21, 1999 Córdoba, Liberal Party Senator and president of the Senate's Human Rights Commission, was abducted in Medellín by a group of fifteen armed men. The next day, paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño issued a public statement claiming responsibility for the abduction. She was later released.

26. Diana Salamanca Martínez, Justice and Peace: Salamanca, a human rights worker, was abducted on November 10, 1999 by paramilitary forces in Dabeiba, Antioquia. Three days later, following a national and international outcry, Salamanca was released to church workers in Necoclí, Antioquia. She reports having been transported overland in a truck, passing unhindered through various military and police checkpoints. We are not aware of any arrests.

27. San José de Apartadó: On February 19 and July 8, 2000, alleged paramilitaries killed 11 civilians in San José de Apartadó. According to eyewitnesses, personnel of the 17th Brigade were in the area at the time of both massacres and failed to prevent or stop the killings. An army helicopter allegedly belonging to the 17th Brigade hovered overhead at the time of the July 8 massacre.

28. El Aro: Colombian prosecutors collected evidence linking the 4th Brigade, under the command of General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, to the October 25, 1997, massacre committed by paramilitaries in El Aro. Government documents show that a joint Army- paramilitary force surrounded the village and maintained a perimeter while about 25 paramilitaries entered the town, rounded up residents, and executed four people.

CONDITION (C): Prosecution for Paramilitary Activities

This condition requires that the Secretary of State certify that:

"(C) The Government of Colombia is vigorously prosecuting in the civilian courts the leaders and members of paramilitary groups and Colombian Armed Forces personnel who are aiding or abetting these groups."

BENCHMARKS:

The following benchmarks should be achieved before the Secretary of State issues a certification of the Colombian government’s compliance with this condition:

A. The “Coordination Center for the Fight against Self-Defense Groups” should present to the public a comprehensive plan that is fully funded and includes a long-term and politically feasible strategy to disband paramilitary groups and execute outstanding arrest warrants.

B. The United States should obtain a list of the names of paramilitary leaders and members who have been indicted, arrested, and prosecuted since August 1997; a description of the charges brought; and the disposition of the cases. The US Embassy should update it at three-month intervals, and distribute it promptly to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification. Included should be new cases and developments in existing cases, with particular emphasis on whether or not the security forces are taking concrete measures to execute warrants. Information regarding the execution of arrest warrants should be sorted according to the security force units to which they refer

C. The United States should obtain a list of the names and ranks of Colombian armed forces personnel who have been brought to justice in civilian courts since August 1997 for aiding or abetting paramilitary groups, including a description of the charges brought and the disposition of the cases. The US Embassy should update it at three-month intervals, and distribute it promptly to the appropriate congressional committees and the human rights groups included in the consultation process required for certification. Included should be new cases and developments in existing cases, with particular emphasis on whether or not the security forces are cooperating with the execution of arrest warrants. The execution of arrest warrants should be sorted according to the security force units to which they refer.

D. The United States should require the investigation and, as appropriate, arrest and prosecution in civilian courts of the following military personnel. They have yet to be investigated and brought to trial under civilian jurisdiction despite credible allegations of their participation in gross human rights violations and/or support for paramilitary activity:

1. General (ret.) Fernando Millán, former Commander, 5th Brigade: The Fiscalía opened an investigation of General Millán based on evidence indicating that he set up the Las Colonias CONVIVIR in Lebrija, Santander, while he commanded the Fifth Brigade. The Las Colonias CONVIVIR operated throughout 1997 without a license but with army support according to the testimony of former members. According to residents and victims’ families, the group committed at least fifteen targeted killings before the director, “Commander Cañón,” a retired army officer, and the employees he hired were arrested and prosecuted under Decree 1194, which prohibits the formation of paramilitary groups. Among the cases currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office are the killings of two Protestants, brothers Oscar and Armando Beltrán Correa, taken captive by the Las Colonias CONVIVIR as they headed to work on July 29, 1997 and killed on the road leading from Lebrija to the hamlet of La Puente. Apparently, the CONVIVIR accused them of passing information to the guerrillas. On September 4, 1997, father and son Leonardo and José Manuel Cadena were forced out of their home by CONVIVIR members and killed according to a family member’s testimony to the Attorney General’s Office, apparently because the CONVIVIR accused the Cadenas of bringing food to guerrillas. According to a former CONVIVIR member who was also an army informant, during its months of operation, the Las Colonias CONVIVIR went on frequent operations with army units, setting up roadblocks and detaining suspected guerrillas and criminals. When the Attorney General’s Office investigated the case, the army high command prevented prosecutors from questioning Millán, then interposed a jurisdictional dispute, claiming that since Millán was on active service and carrying out his official duties, the case should be tried before a military tribunal. Following a decision by the CSJ, the case was transferred to the military justice system in October 1998. A prosecutor assigned to investigate the May 1998 massacre of 11 people in Barrancabermeja fled the country after receiving threats from General Millán, then- Commander of the 5th Brigade. Nine members of the military and police were disciplined in connection with the massacre, but there have been no civilian prosecutions. General Millán has not been brought to justice in the civilian justice system.

2. Major Jesús María Clavijo, 4th Brigade: In March 2000, Major Clavijo was relieved of command pending the outcome of his trial on charges of helping form and direct paramilitary groups during his service with the 4th Brigade. Eyewitnesses have linked Clavijo and other 4th Brigade officers to paramilitaries through regular meetings held on military bases. An investigation by the Internal Affairs agency (Procuraduría) listed hundreds of cellular telephone and beeper communications between known paramilitaries and 4th Brigade officers, among them Clavijo. On May 11, 2000, the Attorney General received a jurisdictional dispute from the military judge handling the case. The case is now pending before the CSJ.

3. General (ret.) Jaime Uscátegui, 7th Brigade: Dozens of civilians were killed by paramilitaries and hundreds were forced to flee for their lives from Mapiripán, Meta, in July 1997. For five days, paramilitaries acting with the support of the army detained residents and people arriving by boat, took them to the local slaughterhouse, then bound, tortured, and executed them by slitting their throats. Local army and police units ignored repeated phone calls from a civilian judge in the area asking for help to stop the slayings. At least two bodies -- those of Sinaí Blanco, a boatman, and Ronald Valencia, the airstrip manager -- were decapitated. Judge Leonardo Iván Cortés reported hearing the screams of the people they brought to the Slaughterhouse to interrogate, torture, and kill. In one of the missives he sent to various regional authorities during the massacre, he wrote: “Each night they kill groups of five to six defenseless people, who are cruelly and monstrously massacred after being tortured. The screams of humble people are audible, begging for mercy and asking for help.” Hundreds of people fled the region, including Judge Cortés, who was forced to leave Colombia with his family because of threats on his life.

Subsequent investigations revealed that troops under the command of Uscátegui, then in charge of the 7th Brigade, assisted the paramilitaries during their arrival at the nearest airport, and made sure that troops able to combat paramilitaries were engaged elsewhere. In an attempt to cover up his responsibility, Uscátegui tried to falsify documents reporting the massacre. As a result of their internal investigation, the army put Gen. Uscátegui on administrative duty for failing to act promptly to stop the massacre and detain those responsible. However, the CSJ later ruled that the case involved an “act of omission” and belonged before a military court. Uscátegui later retired, and has yet to be prosecuted in civilian courts for his alleged crimes. Subsequently, the military reopened the case and announced that Uscátegui would be brought before a Consejo de Guerra on charges of “homicidio,” “prevaricación por omisión,” and “falsedad en documento” for the Mapiripán massacre. Uscátegui has been re-arrested and is held in the 13th Brigade.

4. General (ret.) Alberto Bravo Silva, Commander, 5th Brigade: According to Colombia’s Public Advocate, on May 29, 1999, paramilitaries killed at least 20 people and abducted up to fifteen more in La Gabarra (Norte de Santander). General Bravo was repeatedly informed of the subsequent threats and the ensuing massacres, but did not act to prevent them or to pursue the perpetrators effectively once the massacre had taken place. He was relieved of duty, but was not prosecuted in civilian courts for his alleged role in aiding and abetting this atrocity.

5. General (ret.) Rito Alejo del Río, 17th Brigade: An investigation was opened by Fiscalía in 1998 into Del Río’s support and tolerance for paramilitary activity in the Urabá region in 1996 and 1997 while he was commander of the 17th Brigade. According to reports made by Colonel (ret.) Carlos Velásquez, his chief of staff, to his superiors in 1996, that Del Río supported paramilitaries in Urabá, and maintained a relationship with a retired army major who worked with paramilitaries. Instead of prompting a serious investigation of Del Río, the reports prompted the army to investigate Velásquez, in an apparent attempt to silence him. The army concluded the inquiry by recommending not that Gen. del Río, who was later promoted, be punished, but that Colonel Velásquez be disciplined for “insubordination, [acts] against duty and esprit de corps.” Velásquez was forced to retire on January 1, 1997.

Very recent press reports indicate that an August 2000 investigation was opened by the Fiscalía against Generals del Río and Fernando Millán. According to these reports, prosecutors charged that they had attempted to present false witnesses to the Fiscalía to claim that a prominent trade Unionist and a human rights defender had themselves paid witnesses to denounce del Río and Millán for ties to paramilitaries. These reports indicate that the Fiscalía believes that, in fact, an army “informant” in league with Del Rio and Millán paid the two false witnesses to lie to authorities.

6. General (ret.) Farouk Yanine Díaz: Gen. Yanine was arrested in October 1996 for alleged complicity in the massacre of 19 merchants in the Middle Magdalena region in 1987. Eyewitnesses, including a military officer, testified that he supported paramilitaries who carried out the massacre and had operated in the area since 1984, when Yanine was commander of the 14th Brigade in Puerto Berrio. The paramilitary leader also testified that Gen. Yanine had paid him a large sum to carry out the killing. Yanine also allegedly provided paramilitaries with the intelligence necessary to intercept their victims. Despite abUNdant evidence, General Manuel José Bonnet, at the time commander of the Army, closed the case for alleged lack of evidence. The Procuraduría appealed the decision on the grounds that “evidence presented against Yanine Díaz had not been taken into account [the sentence] clearly deviates from the evidence presented in this case.” The Department of State expressed concern about the acquittal on July 1, 1997.

7. General Rodrigo Quiñónes, Commander, Navy’s 1st Brigade: Colombian government investigators linked Quiñónes to at least 57 murders of trade unionists, human rights workers, and community leaders in 1991 and 1992, when he was head of Navy Intelligence and ran Network 3, based in Barrancabermeja. A military tribunal decided that there was insufficient evidence against him, but he has not been brought to trial in the civilian justice system. The only people to be convicted for these crimes were two civilian employees of Naval Intelligence Network No. 7, one of whom was later murdered in prison. In his ruling on the case, the civilian judge stated that he was “perplexed” by the military tribunal’s acquittals of Quiñónes and others, since he considered the evidence against them to be “irrefutable.” “With [this acquittal] all that [the military] does is justify crime, since the incidents and the people responsible for committing them are more than clear.” This judge also discounted the military’s contention that Quiñónes was the victim of a smear campaign by drug traffickers, concluding that there was no evidence to support this claim. To the contrary, he concluded that evidence linking Quiñónes to the Barrancabermeja atrocities was clear and compelling.

The only punishment meted out to Quiñónes so far has been a “severe reprimand” ordered by the Procuraduría General de la Nación, which concluded that he was responsible for the deaths. In a disputable interpretation of existing norms, the Procuraduría has determined that murder is not classified as an administrative infraction in the existing regulations. Therefore, the maximum punishment it can impose for murder is a “severe reprimand,” essentially a letter in an employment file. It is important to note that the Procuraduría itself has termed this absurd punishment “embarrassingly insignificant, both within the national sphere and before the international community.” Quiñónes is also the officer in charge of the region at the time of the February 2000 massacre in El Salado (Bolívar). Military and police units stationed nearby failed to stop the killing and established roadblocks which prevented human rights and relief groups from entering the town. Quiñónes was promoted to General in June 2000.

8. General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, Commander, 4th Division: Colombia”s Attorney General”s Office has documented extensive ties between the 4th Brigade and paramilitary groups between 1997 and 1999, while General Ospina was in command. Among the cases that implicate Ospina is the October 1997 El Aro massacre. Government documents show that a joint army-paramilitary force surrounded the village and maintained a perimeter while about 25 paramilitaries entered the town, rounded up residents, and executed four people.

9. Brigadier General Jaime Ernesto Canal Albán, Commander, 3rd Brigade: Colombian government investigators found evidence that, in 1999, while Brig. Gen. Canal Albán was in command, the 3rd Brigade set up a paramilitary group and provided them with weapons and intelligence.

10. General Jaime Humberto Cortés Parada, Inspector General of the Army: the Fiscalía collected compelling and abundant evidence indicating that under his command at the 3rd Division, the Army”s 3rd Brigade set up a “paramilitary” group in the department of Valle del Cauca, in southern Colombia. Investigators were able to link the group to active duty, retired, and reserve military officers and the ACCU (See below);

11. General Freddy Padilla León, Commander of the II Division, and Colonel Gustavo Sánchez Gutiérrez, Army Personnel Director: In July 2000, the press widely reported that the Procuraduría formally charged (pliego de cargos) General Jaime Humberto Cortés Parada and these two officers with “omission” in connection with the massacre of Puerto Alvira in June 1997. Two other generals who also face disciplinary charges, for “omission” - Generals Jaime Humberto Uscátegui and Agustín Ardila Uribe -- are already retired.

E. Investigation and, as appropriate, arrest and prosecution of the following paramilitary leaders and members:

1. Carlos Castaño Gil, leader of the Peasant Self-Defense Force of Cordobá and Urabá (ACCU): Castaño has twenty-two outstanding arrest warrants, including one relating to the killings of human rights defenders. He has been implicated in the death of political satirist Jaime Garzón, whom he allegedly threatened and he claimed responsibility for the death of University of Antioquia student Gustavo Marulanda. Castaño has repeatedly threatened to have his forces continue the May 2000 massacres in La Gabarra (Norte de Santander) until the area is "cleansed" of guerrillas. Despite Castaño’s public appearances, including a television appearance in March 2000, Colombian law enforcement agencies have not executed warrants for his arrest.

2. Fidel Castaño Gil, Los Tangüeros: Although the Castaño family claims that Fidel is dead, there is no confirmation of this. Meanwhile, the Fiscalía continues to bring charges and sentences against him, and he should at the present be considered a fugitive.

3. Alexander "El Zarco" Londoño, Las Terrazas: Londoño is the head of a group of professional killers that works with Carlos Castaño and is wanted in connection with a series of killings and kidnappings, including the 1999 IPC kidnapping, carried out on the orders of the ACCU. There are several warrants for his arrest.

4. Julian Duque, Bolívar: Duque is the paramilitary leader of the Autodefensas del Sur de Bolívar and is wanted for organizing paramilitary groups.

5. Gabriel Salvatore "El Mono" Mancuso Gómez, ACCU: Mancuso has eight arrest warrants outstanding against him, including one related to the 1997 El Aro massacre, carried out in coordination with the 4th Brigade.

6. Ramón Isaza Arango, Middle Magdalena: A veteran paramilitary leader, Isaza is wanted for paramilitary activity in the region surrounding Barrancabermeja.

7. Luis Eduardo "El Aguila" Cifuentes Galindo, Cundinamarca: Cifuentes is the paramilitary leader of the Autodefensas de Cundinamarca and is wanted for organizing paramilitary groups.

8. Diego Fernando Murillo Bejerano: Murillo is not directly associated with the military wing of the “self-defense forces,” instead playing a white-collar financial role. He is allegedly responsibly for a series of kidnappings in and around Medellín, carried out in association with the AUC. The Attorney General reportedly also suspects him of being the “intellectual author” of the murder of Mario Calderón and Elsa Alvarado.

F. Investigation and, as appropriate, arrest and prosecution of paramilitaries believed to be involved in the following human rights cases:

1. Alirio de Jesus Pedraza Becerra: Pedraza, a lawyer with the Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (Comité de Solidaridad con Presos Políticos, CSPP), was “disappeared” by eight heavily armed men on July 4, 1990. His whereabouts have never been determined. At the time, he was representing the family members of scores of peasants killed when the Luciano D”Eluyart Battalion opened fire on a protest march in 1988 in Llano Caliente, Santander. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

2. Blanca Cecilia Valero de Durán, CREDHOS: This human rights defender belonging to the Regional Human Rights Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (Comité Regional para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, CREDHOS) was shot and killed on January 29, 1992 in Barrancabemeja, Santander. The then Colonel Rodrigo Quiñónes Cárdenas, director of intelligence for Colombian Navy Intelligence Network 7, was believed responsible for her murder and scores of other political killings by government investigators. Nevertheless, Quiñónes was acquitted by a military tribunal, although the Fiscalía named him as the “unequivocal” intellectual author. He remains on active duty. Two people were convicted in the killing.

3. Oscar Elías López, CRIC: This human rights lawyer had been advising the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca, (Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca, CRIC). He was killed in Santander de Quilchao by heavily armed men on May 29, 1992.

4. Julio Cesar Berrio, CREDHOS: He was a security guard employed by CREDHOS, also involved in a CREDHOS investigation. He was shot dead on June 28, 1992, allegedly by men working for Navy Intelligence Director Colonel Quiñónes.

5. Ligia Patricia Cortez Colmenares, CREDHOS: Cortez, an investigator with CREDHOS, was killed on July 30,1992, alongside several Union members. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

6. Jairo Barahona Martínez, Curumaní Human Rights Committee: This activist was killed on September 29, 1994 in Curumaní, Cesar following his abduction and torture. According to members of human rights organizations who collected information and pressed for a proper judicial investigation into the killing, members of the security forces were implicated in the assassination. No one has been brought to justice.

7. Ernesto Emilio Fernández, human rights defender: He was shot while driving home with his children on February 20, 1995. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

8. Javier Alberto Barriga Vergal, CSPP: This human rights lawyer was killed in Cucutá on June 16, 1995. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

9. Josué Giraldo Cardona, co-founder and president of the Meta Civic Committee for Human Rights: Giraldo was killed on October 13, 1996 after months of alleged harassment and threats by paramilitaries and military intelligence officers working for the 7th Brigade, then commanded by General Rodolfo Herrera Luna.

10. Elsa Alvarado and Mario Calderón, CINEP: Alvarado and Calderón were investigators with the Center for Research and Popular Education (Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular, CINEP). On May 19, 1997 a group of masked gunmen forced their way into Alvarado and Calderón”s apartment, killing Elsa, Mario, and Elsa”s father. Although some material authors of the crime are under arrest, the intellectual authors remain at large. Arrest warrants have been issued for Fidel and Carlos Castaño as the intellectual authors of the killings.

11. Jesús María Valle Jaramillo, “Héctor Abad Gómez” Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights: Valle was assassinated on February 27, 1998 by unidentified gunmen, after repeatedly denouncing military / paramilitary links. Formal criminal charges were brought by the Attorney General”s office against paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño and eight others. Six paramilitaries are currently detained. Despite strong indications of military involvement in the crime, no formal investigation has been opened against military personnel.

12. Eduardo Umaña, human rights lawyer: Umaña was killed in Bogotá on April 18, 1998. Several alleged gunmen are either under arrest or wanted for extradition. Shortly before his murder he had denounced the role of a military intelligence unit in paramilitary activity and human rights violations. The intellectual authors remain at large.

13. Jorge Ortega, union leader: This union leader and human rights defender was killed in Bogotá on October 20, 1998. Two former police officers have been implicated in the attack and are in prison. However, the intellectual authors remain unidentified.

14. Everardo de Jesús Puertas and Julio Ernesto González, CSPP: Puertas and González, lawyers with the CSPP, were shot dead on the January 30, 1999, as they traveled by bus from Medellín to Bogotá. We are not aware of any arrests in this case.

15. Dario Betancourt, academic: Betancourt, a professor at Bogotá”s Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, was forcibly disappeared on May 2, 1999, and his body was found on September 2, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

16. Hernan Henao, academic: Henao, the Director of the University of Antioquia’s Regional Studies Institute, was killed on May 4, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

17. Guzmán Quintero Torres, journalist: Quintero, a journalist who had investigated reports of corruption within the armed forces, was killed on September 16, 1999, in Valledupar (Cesar). The Attorney General’s Office detained two paramilitaries allegedly involved in the killing, but the intellectual authors have not been identified.

18. Jesús Antonio Bejarano, academic: Bejarano, a former government official involved in the peace talks with the FARC, was killed on September 16, 1999. There have been no arrest warrants issued in this case.

19. Alberto Sánchez Tovar and Luis Alberto Rincón Solano, journalists: Journalists Sánchez and Rincón were allegedly detained and executed by paramilitaries on November 28, 1999, in El Playón (Santander), while covering municipal elections. Three paramilitary gunmen have been arrested, but the intellectual authors remain unidentified.

20. Jairo Bedoya Hoyos, indigenous activist: Bedoya, a member of the Indigenous Organization of Antioquia (Organización Indígena de Antioquia, OIA), was abducted on March 2, 2000. There have been no arrests in this case.

21. Margarita Maria Pulgarín Trujillo, Fiscalía: Pulgarín, a prosecutor specializing in investigating links between the military and paramilitary groups, was killed in Medellín on April 3, 2000. No arrest warrants have been issued in this case.

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