EL ESPECTADOR, October 26, 2021

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, is visiting Colombia with reference to its investigation of the Colombian government for serious violations of human rights. Colombia’s Supreme Court furnished him with a report, which states that there have been massacres, investigations of members of Congress, false positives, and sexual violence.

In 2004, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation of Colombia for serious human rights violations, including the promotion and expansion of paramilitary groups, forced displacement, sexual war crimes, false positives, and the commitments made in the Peace Agreement regarding the now-defunct FARC combatants. That’s the reason that Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan is making an official visit to this country seeking information for the ICC’s final decision.

We learned this morning that Karim Khan has in his possession a Colombian government document requesting that the investigation be placed on file, since the government has created different “mechanisms by which to achieve peace after fifty years of conflict”. In addition, the Supreme Court of Justice furnished a report of its advances in areas of interest to the ICC. For example, the High Court sent details about the 78 files it maintains on the massacres in Colombia, through decisions that reach from 1994 to 2020.

Among the references is the decision declaring that investigation of the massacres at San Roque, El Aro, and Ituango, all in Antioquia, may not be barred by the expiration of statutes of limitation. In each of these massacres, the alleged “actor” was former President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, along with the paramilitaries being investigated by the ICC. Also included in the report was the so-called “massacre of the 19 merchants” who were murdered by paramilitaries in Magdalena Medio in October of  1987 when they were on a business trip from Cúcuta to Medellín.

The Supreme Court has prosecuted, and is still prosecuting, private individuals like Uribe Vélez, the now-defunct FARC guerrillas, the M-19, the paramilitaries, members of the military, and even the drug trafficking cartel in Norte del Valle in the context of the massacres. Also the alliances between different actors like the military and the paramilitaries in the grim massacre of San José de Apartadó (2005) when “paras” of the Heroes of Tolová bloc in association with agents of the government massacred three children and five adults.

With regard to the alliance between paramilitaries and politicians, there was information about the 40-year prison sentence of former Senator Álvaro García Romero, convicted of having given orders for the massacre at Macayepo (Bolívar) in October of 2000. Twelve campesinos were murdered and another 200 were displaced, because of the ambitions of Sucre’s former governor, Miguel Nule Amin. He was trying to recover some stolen cattle by using extreme violence.

With regard to forced displacement, the Supreme Court of Justice has issued 16 decisions, which involve 46 convictions. All of those convictions were for forced displacement, with the addition of charges like homicide, torture, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, illegal use of Armed Forces uniforms, terrorism, illegal recruitment, extortion, and weapons trafficking. The Court also furnished data on 59 files on demobilized paramilitaries. The Court overturned some of the convictions, confirmed some of the sentences, ordered reparation, added new charges, and ordered public apologies.

Neither did privileged individuals escape mention in the Court’s report to the ICC. The High Court provided information on 24 files accusing members of the Chamber of Representatives, 31 files affecting senators, the two convictions of the Director of the now-extinct DAS[1], Jorge Noguera, and 10 files accusing governors. Those include the conviction of former administrator of Santander Department, Hugo Aguilar, who was found responsible for associating with paramilitaries. All of the privileged individuals, mostly members of Congress, were convicted of being allied with the “paras”. Only two cases were dismissed.

Regarding the false positives, the Court reported 69 files, with 221 convictions. Of the cases turned over to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), 41 were transferred, for the crimes of homicide of a protected person, (commonly referred to as extrajudicial executions, homicide, weapons trafficking, embezzlement, illegal contracts, kidnapping, and rebellion (usually applied to the various guerrillas)).

Finally, the High Court explained that it had prosecuted four cases of sexual violence in the war setting, for the crime of carnal access to a protected person, for a total of four convictions. Also, for review by international agencies, the Supreme Court furnished 26 prosecutions, including the case of former paramilitary chieftain Salvatore Mancuso, extradited to the United States, who appeared to have committed 75,000 crimes as the Commander of the AUC. Using all of that information, the ICC will describe Colombia’s reaction during an internal war from which nobody has been able to disengage.

[1] The DAS (Administrative Department of Security) was closed down after officials were found to be working with paramilitaries and spying on the Supreme Court.

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