The Colombian government meets “statutory criteria related to human rights,” the United States government determined. The official certification is necessary for Washington to send $30.3 million in military aid to the Andean country.
“Though there continues to be a need for improvement, the Colombian government has taken positive steps to improve respect for human rights in the country,” the U.S. State Department said in a press release on Wednesday.
According to the State Department, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos “has taken significant steps to demonstrate that it takes human rights seriously, which includes establishing a roundtable on labor, meeting with NGOs and civil society groups and committing to increasing engagement with these groups, and reaching out to Colombia’s courts to repair relations with the judicial system.The Santos Administration has taken significant steps to demonstrate that it takes human rights seriously, which includes establishing a roundtable on labor, meeting with NGOs and civil society groups and committing to increasing engagement with these groups, and reaching out to Colombia’s courts to repair relations with the judicial system.”
In the press release, the U.S. government calls on Colombian authorities to improve its justice system as “impunity remains a concern.”
“The Prosecutor General’s Office needs to improve its structure and its responsiveness in resolving cases, and to overcome the personnel challenges resulting from the implementation of a constitutionally mandated entrance exam. Swift selection of a Prosecutor General is also vital to making headway on combating impunity. Investigations into extrajudicial killings continue to proceed, albeit slowly, and there are concerns that human rights cases are not being transferred from the military to civilian judicial system as often as they should,” the press release said.
The State Department rejected the illegal wiretapping of Colombia’s intelligence agency DAS and says “threats by criminal groups against human rights defenders (HRDs) and civil society in Colombia are also deeply troubling.”
Despite these existing problems with human rights, Washington “remains committed to continued engagement with the Colombian government to improve the human rights performance of the Colombian Armed Forces, and respect for human rights throughout the country.”
U.S. officials told the Associated Press that the money would go to support military aviation, ground and maritime programs as well as training for peacekeepers and equipment.
Some human rights groups had urged the administration not to release the funds, arguing that Colombia has yet to rein in abuses by its security forces.