Colombia’s inspector general said that the extrajudicial killing of civilians by the country’s armed forces was caused by pressure to please the armed forces’ high command and the government, newspaper El Tiempo reported on Thursday.
According to the newspaper it is the first time that a Colombian watchdog body has contradicted the official line, which is that murders of civilians by the army to inflate kill statistics were isolated cases.
The inspector general’s (IG) comments were made when charging members of the army with “false positive” extrajudicial killings in Soacha, a city south of Bogota, where the army allegedly killed 19 young men and then presented them as guerrillas killed in combat.
The murders were a “criminal plan which only purpose was to meet an institutional requirement, born of the need to show senior commanders, and why not say it, the government, that the fight against legal armed groups was being won,” El Tiempo quoted the IG saying when charging two colonels, two majors, four non-commissioned officers and 18 soldiers with the kidnapping and murder of the men.
In the case of the murder of one of the victims, one of the colonels and his troops aimed for “the mentioned homicide [to be] recognized as an operational result by the high command, taking into consideration that this military unit had not had success in quite a while,” the IG said.
According to NGOs, more than 3,700 civilians have been murdered by the military since 2002. Judicial authorities are investigating at least 1,000 cases of extrajudicial murders.