By Daniel Jerez P., RCN Radio, January 24, 2020

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

José Miguel Vivanco says that if that is the case, there will be bilateral problems between Bogotá and Washington.

The Peace Committee of Colombia’s Congress met with the Americas Director of Human Rights Watch, José Miguel Vivanco, to discuss the most recent illegal wiretapping scandal revealed by Semana magazine.

Vivanco said that these events are extremely serious and because of that, he announced that the NGO intended to undertake a process of investigation to determine whether or not the equipment that had been used by the Army to “listen in” had been donated by the United States.

The Director of the international NGO said that this equipment, donated by the North Americans, is only to be used for legally authorized efforts and judicial operations against drug trafficking, criminals, and illegal armed groups, but not against the civilian population.

“We will take the necessary steps, especially with the Congress of the United States, which is required to supervise these activities, with the Senate in particular, and we will undertake measures to determine exactly whether this equipment that has been used in spying on civil society and politicians in Colombia belongs to the United States,” he said.

“After that we will consider any new courses of action, but here the most important thing is to obtain the information,” he added.

Vivanco said that there would be consequences for the Colombian Government in case it is proved that this equipment donated by the United States was used illegally.

“If that should be proved, it might become a serious problem, a bilateral problem between Washington and Bogotá, because the authorities would have to explain the case and do the same to the United States, so they could understand what had happened in these circumstances,” he maintained.

With regard o General Nicacio Martínez, the former Commander of the Colombian Army, Human Rights Watch assures that it has no knowledge of whether or not he is the one responsible for the illegal stalking of political leaders, Justices and journalists.

“We have no evidence that would point to him as directly responsible for these actions. We do know that there are officials, Army personnel attached to intelligence work, who obviously are part of an institution that is vertical and hierarchical, but we have to determine which are the responsibilities carried out by the highest authorities,” he concluded.

The Director of Human Rights Watch also reported that he has met with Colombia’s Acting Attorney General, Fabio Espitia, who assured him that the investigations of the illegal wiretapping will be carried out as rapidly as possible.

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