Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has revealed that the number of extrajudicial executions by state agents has risen to 4,382, indicating more than 160 victims have been identified this year, according to local media.
The “false positives” scandal is centered around the extrajudicial killings of civilians by members of the armed forces who dressed their victims as guerrillas in order to present them as combat kills.
FACT SHEET: False positives
A total of 2,225 cases of false positives are being investigated in which 4,919 state agents, mostly from the army, have been implicated, according to Blu Radio. The number of implicated military and police personnel has increased by nearly 150 since January of this year.
False positives per year
False positives per state
Of the nearly 5,000 state agents implicated in the crimes, 742 have been convicted, almost all from the army. More than 200 are officers rankings from corporal to colonel, and more then 500 soldiers.
While governmental and non-governmental organizations had been denouncing the practice for years, the Colombian government of then-President Alvaro Uribe denied the armed forces were killing civilians until late 2008 when prosecution investigators linked the bodies of unidentified rebel fighters found in the north of the country to people who had been reported missing in Soacha, a city south of the capital Bogota.
The practice began in the mid-1980s, but the vast majority occurred under Uribe’s administration (2002-2010), particularly after Colombia’s current president, Juan Manuel Santos, was made defense minister in 2006.
In 2007, the practice reached its peak. Around 2 out of every 5 reported combat kills – 40% – were actually civilians killed by state agents, according to numbers from the Prosecutor General’s Office.