The commander of Colombia’s army said Tuesday that he would change instructions for his troops after a wave of criticism the current instruction threatens the lives of civilians.
In an interview with newspaper El Tiempo, National Army commander General Nicacio Martinez said the directive would be altered to avoid the outside interpretation that the military was willing to violate human rights and international humanitarian law in order to obtain better results.
Martinez did not say what part of the directive he would change and said that the concerns in media reports on his order to double the number of combat kills and captures were based on a “misinterpretation.”
Colombia to investigate army chief over order to increase combat kills, despite possible civilian deaths
Martinez did not commit to remove this part of the directive that rewarded combat kills and captures and spurred the fears it could lead to a repetition of the mass killing of civilians to boost the army’s apparent effectiveness.
The New York Times on Saturday reported that several top commanders felt uncomfortable with the instruction because it reminded them of the orders that led to the thousands of “false positives” discovered during the presidency of Alvaro Uribe and sent more than a 1,000 soldiers to prison.
Martinez said that the national government supported the directive, but that he decided to change the directive to avoid “bad interpretations” by outsiders.
The army chief said he has received more than 70 letters of support from subordinates of what the Ministry of Defense called a valid policy to plan operational results in the fight against illegal armed groups.
Colombia’s defense minister Guillermo Botero has consistently claimed that, unlike before, that the national army, which is fighting several illegal armed groups, would comply fully with international humanitarian law and respect human rights while President Ivan Duque is in office.