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The “Sixth Division”: Military-paramilitary Ties and U.S. Policy in Colombia

Appendix 1. International Voices

Diverse reports have underscored evidence on continuing ties between the Colombian military and paramilitary groups:

"Despite some prosecutions and convictions, the authorities rarely brought higher-ranking officers of the security forces and the police charged with human rights offenses to justice, and impunity remains a problem. Members of the security forces collaborated with paramilitary groups that committed abuses, in some instances allowing such groups to pass through roadblocks, sharing information, or providing them with supplies or ammunition. Despite increased government efforts to combat and capture members of paramilitary groups, often security forces failed to take action to prevent paramilitary attacks. Paramilitary forces find a ready support base within the military and police, as well as among local civilian elites in many areas." -- Colombia chapter, U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights, February 26, 2001

"In its constant visits to rural areas the Office kept being told of and witnessing many signs of negligent attitudes and persistent close ties between some members of the security forces and paramilitary groups... Paramilitary operations against the civilian population have been stepped up in intensity and frequency; far from diminishing, they have increased; but they have not encountered any governmental action aimed at stopping them. By contrast with the large military offensives against the guerrillas, deploying huge human and logistic resources in campaigns that last for weeks, the results of the Government's anti-paramilitary policy and Decree 324 (2000) are patchy. Generally, attacks on paramilitaries follow a pattern of minor skirmishes, sporadic search operations and individual arrests (in many cases, thanks to efforts by the Office of the [Attorney General]). The strategic impact of these actions in the struggle against the paramilitaries is questionable. Since the minister of defense was designated to lead the Center coordinating the campaign against the self-defense and other illegal groups that was established under Decree 324, the Office, as mentioned above, has supplied information on the location of paramilitary bases and the movements of the different blocs. It has generally received unsatisfactory, pro forma responses giving no information on what authorities have done." - "Report of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Colombia," E/CN.4/2001/15, February 8, 2001.

"The impunity with which paramilitary groups continue to operate throughout much of the country, despite the Army's presence, and the ever escalating violence that continues to cause forced displacement of the civilian population, suggest that these groups continue to operate with the collaboration and acquiescence of agents of the State." - Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights 2000, Organization of American States, April 16, 2001.

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