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Colombia: News & Updates

Colombia has the world's second largest population of internally displaced persons (five million) due to the half-century internal armed conflict—the longest-running war in the Western Hemisphere (since 1964). Control for territory and popular support among the three main groups (left-wing rebel forces FARC & ELN, right-wing paramilitaries, Colombian police/military) has left 220,000 killed, 75% of them non-combatants. Since 2000, the US has exacerbated the violence by sending more than $9 billion in mostly military assistance. Colombia, which has both Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, holds strategic interest for the US for global trade and military posturing.

   

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News Article
Data from the Victims Unit show that 192,638 Indigenous People and 794,703 Afro-Colombians were affected by the war experienced in recent years. The guerrilla made life impossible for several indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, and massacres such as that of the Awá in Nariño and Afro-Colombians in Bojayá, mined collective territories, communities stripped of their territories and young people and children recruited are some examples of the FARC's violent acts carried out against ethnic peoples. Almost a third of the national territory is categorised as indigenous reserves, and most of them have to face serious environmental conflicts and land grabbing due to extractive activities in the zone.
News Article
Emma Banks details the findings of #MisionSOSColombia, an international verification mission investigating human rights violations since the protests began on April 28. #MisionSOSColombia built on the findings of three similar preceding missions, covering a wider geographic area and collecting hundreds of personal testimonies that demonstrate the systematic political and violent repression of protests in Colombia. It found clear evidence of disproportionate use of force by police, violence from paramilitaries and armed civilians, and arbitrary detentions of protestors. #MisionSOSColombia calls on the Colombian government to immediately halt their efforts to end the protests through violence against protestors and the persecution of social movement leaders. The international community must demand that the Colombian government comply with the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. International allies of the Colombian government should cut aid packages if human rights abuses continue.
News Article
Colombia’s human rights crisis continued throughout August 2021, as social activists, trade unionists, students and FARC former combatants were targeted in violent attacks. The month saw several targeted killings and massacres, with authorities seemingly unable to contain deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in various parts of the country.
News Article
A court in Colombia has rejected a move by the attorney general’s office to bring charges against a former army commander for his alleged responsibility in 104 extrajudicial killings because it does not have jurisdiction, it said on Tuesday. At the start of August the attorney general’s office said it would bring charges against retired General Mario Montoya, 72, in connection to a number of so-called false positive killings that took place from November 2007 to November 2008. Despite orders from the defense ministry and military command to prioritize captures, Montoya did not pass them on and continued to incentivize combat deaths, the attorney general’s office said previously. Montoya, who remains free, was commander of Colombia’s army between 2006 and 2008. He submitted himself to Colombia’s transitional justice court (JEP, set up after the Peace Accords of 2016) in 2018. However according to the high court in capital Bogota, while the attorney general’s office can investigate such crimes, the JEP is the only organization that can charge Montoya, the attorney general’s office said.
News Article
The charges, pursued by an attorney general closely aligned with President Iván Duque, could signal that the government is now willing to come to terms with one of the darkest aspects of its military’s history, said Adam Isacson, director of the Defense Oversight program for the Washington Office on Latin America. At least 6,402 Colombians were killed as false enemy combatants between 2002 and 2008, according to a postwar court created in 2016 as part of the peace deal with the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The court, known as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, is charged with investigating the facts of the war and holding those who committed crimes accountable through restorative sentences and, in some cases, prison time. In July, the tribunal charged 11 top military leaders, including a general, in the deaths of at least 120 people in Catatumbo, Norte de Santander. The kidnappings and killings of innocent people, many of them unemployed, homeless or disabled, were carried out in response to pressure to meet body counts as measures of success, the court said. Military leaders incentivized soldiers to kill by offering medals, awards and even vacation time.

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