U.S. NGO the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) expressed disappointment at the U.S. State Department’s decision to certify that Colombia’s government meets with statutory requirements on human rights.
WOLA points out that the Department of State acknowledges “abundant” human rights violations and a lack of progress on prosecutions. “By certifying that human rights conditions are met despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the U.S. government has once again prioritized the delivery of its complete package of military assistance over progress on human rights.”
“The U.S. Congress should use its authority to freeze the assistance attached to the conditions until greater human rights progress is achieved,” says the NGO.
WOLA argues that Colombia has not complied with the conditions required by the U.S. Congress to receive the aid. The State Department’s decision frees up $30.3 million dollars in aid.
An earlier statement released by WOLA in conjunction with several other human rights groups and NGOs urged the State Department not to certify Colombia, because “not only has Colombia failed to meet the conditions, it has taken a significant step backward during the last year-long certification period, particularly in failing to bring human rights crimes by security forces to justice.”
This statement highlighted the lack of investigation and prosecution into cases of extrajudicial executions; the expansion of paramilitary and criminal groups; and increased threats against human rights defenders, journalists, Afro-Colombian groups, indigenous organizations, and trade unionists.
In a statement on the decision, the U.S. Department of State said that while “there continues to be a need for improvement,” the Santos administration “takes human rights seriously.”