Colombian generals linked to killing of civilians: HRW
Human Rights Watch accused some of Colombia’s top generals Wednesday of links to the “generalized and systematic” execution of civilians, who were then presented as felled FARC guerrillas.
The Colombian military has been under fire for years over the so-called “false positives” scandal, in which army units are accused of killing hundreds of civilians, mostly poor young men, from 2002 to 2008 and reporting them as rebels or drug traffickers killed in combat.
In a 95-page report, the New York-based rights group found “abundant evidence indicating that numerous senior army officers bear responsibility” in the widespread extrajudicial killings, which inflated the army’s figures on the number of insurgents killed in combat and earned promotions and decorations for those who took credit.
The group named the top commander of the armed forces, General Juan Pablo Rodriguez, and the top commander of the Army, General Jaime Lasprilla, as among those who “knew or should have known of the crimes.”
The two men commanded brigades at the time that registered at least 76 suspected extrajudicial killings, said the report, which is based on sources including prosecution files, witness interviews and testimony from victims’ families.
“There is mounting evidence that top military officers were responsible for these atrocious acts,” the rights group’s executive director for the Americas, Jose Miguel Vivanco, told a press conference in Bogota.
But the commanding officers involved “have managed to elude justice and have even risen to the highest levels of military command,” he added.
The group said Colombian prosecutors are investigating at least 3,000 “false positives.”
But while hundreds of rank-andfile soldiers have been convicted of the killings, few colonels and no generals have been.