‘Members of the military who cooperate with Colombia’s war crimes tribunal receive no protection, despite threats’

Colombia’s security forces are allegedly intimidating and threatening members who try to talk to media or the country’s war crimes tribunal about military war crimes.

Last week, local media and Human Rights Watch warned that top commanders were summoned to attend a meeting in what has been called a “witch hunt” for the whistleblowers who alerted media about orders to double the army’s number of combat kills and captures.

Colombia’s army accused of ‘hunting’ NYT sources who leaked order to double combat kills and captures

On Sunday, influential Semana columnist Maria Jimena Duzan said that members of the security forces who have submitted to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) have received death threats. One member of the military survived an assassination attempt, according to Duzan.

The members of the military who tell the truth before the JEP are being treated as traitors and when they are threatened, they’re not even worthy the protection of the state.

Maria Jimena Duzan

The military has plenty to hide and alleged military war criminals who refuse to cooperate with the transitional justice system, could face hefty prison sentences.

War crimes attributed to state agents

  • 6,261 homicides
  • 2,401 forced disappearances
  • 315 cases of sexual violence
  • 296 massacres

The government of President Ivan Duque, which opposes the war crimes tribunal, allegedly is also failing to provide security to the members of the military who have agreed to testify.

Far-right supporters of Duque and his political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, have even threatened to extradite members of the military, according to think tank Fundacion Paz y Reconciliacion.

This would make it virtually impossible for the soldiers and commanders to tell the truth about war crimes without fear of getting murdered or extradited.

So far 80 members of the military who voluntarily have gone to tell the truth before the JEP. If anything happens to any of them, the Duque administration will be responsible.

Maria Jimena Duzan

After the 2003 – 2006 demobilization of the AUC, which collaborated with the military, more than 2,000 ex-combatants “died,” according to the prosecution. In some cases, these former fighters had testified against members of the military or powerful politicians like former President Alvaro Uribe, the current president’s political patron.

Since the 2016 peace deal with the FARC, 135 former guerrillas and more than 450 social leaders have been assassinated.

Without any protection, soldiers and commanders taking part in the peace process could await the same fate.

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