By Gustavo Gallón, EL ESPECTADOR, February 24, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

This administration and its party have a special talent for manipulating the numbers about human rights. The purpose is to gloss over the reality in this area and make it look infinitely less serious than it really is.

The number of civilians falsely presented as combat kills was at least 6,402 between 2002 and 2008, according to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP, Order 033, Recognition Branch, February 12). The Attorney General’s Office had reported to the JEP 2,248 victims of these misnamed “false positives” between 1988 and 2014. The chief of the governing party, Álvaro Uribe, said that the JEP’s data “is a biased declaration and besides, it’s bewildering to see such a difference in the numbers.” The 2,248 victims registered by the Attorney General’s Office would be enough to bewilder a person. Besides being bewildered, he resolved to attack the JEP and defend himself in relation to such crimes, in spite of the fact that Order 033 does not mention him. “He who excuses himself accuses himself,” said the ancients.

The Minister of Defense echoed his chief’s complaints. In his opinion, “The figures that the JEP acts upon or develops ought to come from official sources like the Attorney General’s Office.” It’s worth noting that the JEP considered the Attorney General’s sources and cross-checked them with other reports, and concluded that there were at least 6,402 victims.

This obsession for aggressively reducing the numbers is a constant among the current officials in this country. In the Inter-American Court for Human Rights, on February 8, the government admitted only 219 killings of members of the Patriotic Union Party, out of the 6,002 that the Inter-American Commission reported. The magnitude of that genocide is inescapable fact. The government’s paltry refusal to accept its dimensions protects the criminals involved with one of the most shameful outrages in our history, contrary to the Constitution, which requires that “the authorities of the Republic are established to protect every person who lives in Colombia, in his/her life, honor, property, beliefs, and other rights and liberties.”

Because of that, it’s not surprising that the President and the Attorney General announced on February 3 that the number of murders of social leaders, including the numbers registered by the Inspector General and the Public Defender, would be done together from now on and would be based on investigations by the Attorney General’s Office. For the government, last year there were 66 murders of that kind (plus 63 to be verified by the United Nations, which has stated that its figures (“constitute just a sampling of the cases that have happened and do not take the complete universe into consideration.”) The Public Defender’s Office registered 182 killings and the social organizations reported more than 300.

Beyond the statistics, what’s important is to accept, as stated in the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, released February 23, that the killing of defenders and leaders in our country is serious, that it’s increasing, and that the policies for dealing with it are not sufficient. Juggling the numbers to minimize the problem instead of solving it is making it worse, as we have seen in recent years. It’s simply denialism. Who’s in charge?

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