Rewards : Colombian Army Directive # 29 November 17, 2005 – False Positives

On May 5, 2006, the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo reported that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had complained that 24 Colombian civilians had “disappeared” and their bodies were later reported as “guerrillas killed in combat.”  On May 10, 2006, a Colombian Army officer told El Tiempo that, while there was “no official incentive” for a soldier who “kills a guerrilla”, officers are allowed to offer their troops incentives such as cash or time off.  On May 16, 2006, the Medellin newspaper El Colombiano headlined, “They led him away in his undershorts and his body was found dressed as a guerrilla.”  The paper reported that one Victor Molino had been dragged from his bed and later reported as a “guerrilla killed in combat”, although his body had no bullet wounds and he appeared to have been strangled.  Later reports include soldiers hiring “recruiters” to lure civilians to military encampments to be killed and dressed as guerrillas.  A UN investigation reported the practice to be widespread in Colombia.  On January 4, 2012, Medellin’s El Mundo newspaper reported that the Attorney General’s Office is investigating the deaths of some 2,700 civilians murdered by Colombian armed forces who presented their bodies as “guerrillas killed in combat” in order to receive an incentive or reward.

This system of rewards for body count numbers, which the Colombian government wished to increase, came to be known as “false positives” because the Army was presenting non-combatants who were in many cases kidnapped and murdered, then presented falsely as guerrillas killed in combat, which in Colombian Army lingo are known as “positives”, thus “false positives”. The Colombian government sought to keep secret from the public the military directive which CSN publishes here. Although an Army officer denied this document’s existence in May 2006, the directive is dated November 2005. We hope its publication here will help encourage the Colombian Army to abandon once and for all this repulsive conduct.
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