The U.N. Committee for Human Rights criticized the incentives offered by Colombian government to the army in its fight against rebel factions, saying that the system led to the “false positives” scandal of soldiers murdering civilians and reporting them as guerrillas in order to gain rewards.
The committee of eighteen experts asked if Colombia would be willing to abandon the financial incentives, which are paid for information or actions that support the fight against guerrilla groups.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, Fabian Salvioli said “I want to know if Colombia is going to abandon economic incentives […] and draw lessons from the so-called “false positives,” stating that “there have been many cases, mostly in poor populations, of camouflaged executions that were rewarded.”
Salvioli’s comments refer to the false positives scandal, in which it was revealed that around 1,000 civilians were murdered by the army and then reported as rebels in order to inflate kill counts. Figures release in 2009 by several NGOs estimate that around 1,000 people have been killed by the army in this way, a figure which the Colombian government has not denied.
The incentives allegedly emanate from a secret directive dated November 17, 2005, which authorizes “payment in cash or in kind” for “information which serves as a basis for further intelligence work and subsequent planning of operations,” to “counteract positive or criminal actions.”
Last Friday, the committee questioned the Colombian government on the validity of the secret directive.
The government of Colombia said two subsequent directives from 2008 and 2009, have since replaced that from 2005 and stated that the rules had changed, although it did not specify what the new rules are.
In March, President-elect Juan Manuel Santos told media that the “issue of false positives was gone,” and that “there has not been a single false positive case since October 2008.”