Colombian Minister of Defense Rodrigo Rivera said Thursday that Colombia has had zero complaints of human rights violations committed by the security forces so far in 2010.
This contradicts figures cited by ex-Defense Minister Gabriel Silva, who said in June that up to that point there had been 10 rights violations by the armed forces reported in 2010.
Speaking to 400 army officials at Canton Norte army base in Bogota, Rivera said the policy of zero tolerance for human rights violations adopted in 2008 by now President Juan Manuel Santos when he was defense minister contributed to a reduction in violations.
“This year, because we have been very strict in their enforcement, we have had in the Ministry of Defense zero complaints of human rights violations,” Rivera said.
The minister admitted that a research organization has said there are two complaints; “There should be none, but let’s remember that two years ago we had almost 200 cases,” he said.
Rivera credits the reduction in abuses reported to training, intelligence, planning, command responsibility, cooperation, and discipline instituted by the Ministry of Defense.
“This was done in order to strengthen policies of the Ministry of National Defense and the General Command of the Armed Forces in terms of respect and protection of human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of military operations at the tactical level,” Rivera said.
A 2009 report on human rights violations by NGO Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP) shows 547 extrajudicial executions, 40 disappearances, and 1004 other violations committed by Colombian state forces.