Colombia’s Defense Ministry has rejected a recent report which alleged that 10 of 232 homicides committed by members of the army in 2013 were fraudulently reported as combat kills.
The ministry released a statement of Thursday, slamming the claims in a recent report by the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP), which alleged that there were ten “false positives” cases and nearly 2,000 human rights violations in the past year, including during the 2013 farmer’s strike.
“Although the report mentions deaths that occurred as a result of operations by the Armed Forces, there has been no authority that has held members of the Armed Forces responsible and therefore we reject the statements made in this report,” the ministry said in the release.
The Defense Ministry also rejected the use of the term, “false positives,” because it is, “not part of the Colombian legislation.”
Instead, the ministry encouraged, “social organizations to use a more precise language in their reports , so that the image and honor of state institutions and their members are not unjustly affected.”
|“Incidents that allegedly occurred during the protests are being investigated by competent disciplinary authorities and the Ministry vehemently criticizes attacks committed by some protestors against security forces.”-Ministry of Defense|
“Incidents that allegedly occurred during the protests are being investigated by competent disciplinary authorities and the Ministry vehemently criticizes attacks committed by some protestors against security forces,” said the ministry in regards to human rights violations allegedly perpetrated during the 2013 strike protests.
Colombia’s “false positives” scandal is centered around the extrajudicial killings of thousands of civilians by members of the armed forces, who dressed their victims as guerrillas in order to present them as combat kills.
It appears the practice continues: the CINEP report says the ten victims in 2013 included seven farmers, an indigenous person, a community leader, and a teacher.
According to the newspaper El Espectador, the victims included a teacher named Francisco Javier Ocampos, who was killed after being caught in the middle of a police confrontation, and then presented to the media as a member of the criminal gang, “Los Rastrojos”.
In regards to human rights violations, the CINEP report states that in 2013 there were, “575 recorded threats, 484 arbitrary detentions, 424 people injured, 81 cases of torture, and 232 extrajudicial executions,” according to Caracol Radio.
Human rights violations by the military
The report notes that state security forces were responsible for the majority of the violations, with, “579 cases attributed to members of the National Police Force, 294 to paramilitaries, and 207 to the National Army.”
What the practice of false positives did — be it intentionally or unintentionally — was inflate the apparent success of the government in its fight against left-wing guerrillas and right wing paramilitaries. In 2007 — the year most false positives were registered — more than one in five registered combat kills were in fact executed civilians.
The Colombian government of former President Alvaro Uribe denied the armed forces were killing civilians until late 2008, but the practice reached its peak during his reign (2002-2010).
In an July 2013 report, the Prosecutor General’s Office said it had found that the armed forces and civilian collaborators had killed 3,896 civilians since 1986.
- Comunicado de prensa (Ministry of Defense)