By Rodrigo Uprimny, AGENCIA PRENSA RURAL, April 19, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

These false positives are serious because they imply deception of public opinion, without the minister ever having corrected it. For example, in spite of the “set-up” in Pereira that has already been revealed, Molano has never offered any apology to the lady and her family.

The Defense Minister, Diego Molano, has been involved in at least three cases of false positives. On three occasions, he has spoken publicly, calling certain actions by the Armed Forces “successes in the war on crime”, proclaiming people to be dangerous criminals,  when they were actually the victims.

One of those cases happened last March 18, when Molano announced in Pereira that the Police would be destroying a building that was a drug trafficking haunt and a “den of robbers”. However, as NOTICIAS UNO made clear, that was all a “set-up”. An elderly woman, 93 years old, had lived in that humble home for decades, and some weeks earlier had been transferred to a temporary accommodation. The Police deceived the woman’s son in order to enter the house, took away some poor people who had moved in, forced them to take some drugs, and filmed that to make it look like a drug house.

The case is the least awful, because no victims were killed, and the house needed to be demolished because it was at risk of collapsing. But it’s very serious because it’s evident that these “set-ups” are routine for the Police, along with the disregard by certain authorities toward the good name of vulnerable people. The other two cases are even more serious because victims were killed, even teenagers.

The second case is the bombings on encampments of armed groups, which have killed minors that had been forcibly recruited by those groups. Minister Molano has justified those killings with the argument that those teenagers are “war machines”, and so they are legitimate military objectives. I refuted that argument in a previous column. A minor that is a guerrilla is a victim of forced recruitment by the illegal group and, therefore, must be considered part of the civilian population, except when they are directly participating in the fighting. The military commanders and the Minister therefore are required to make every effort to verify whether or not there are minors in the encampment they are proposing to bomb, in conformity with the principle of precaution. That principle establishes that it is the obligation of every military commander to verify whether or not the attack might affect civilians and, if that’s the case, they are required to minimize the damage to the civilians. The Minister has not done that and, therefore, those dead teenagers are false positives, even though he presents them as dangerous war machines. In fact, they are victims of our cruel armed conflict.

Finally, the third false positive is probably the operation in Putumayo on March 28 where 11 people were killed. Even though the facts are confusing and are still being investigated, the solid reporting by CAMBIO, EL ESPECTADOR, and VORÁGINE, together with the ambiguous explanations by the authorities, indicates that the principle of precaution, required by the DIH (International Humanitarian Law) was not respected. In effect, the Armed Forces carried out an attack on a bazaar, in which dozens of civilians were gathered, in order to confront a few guerrillas, and at the time when the most valuable military objective (Alias Bruno) had already left the location. Everything indicates that a number of civilians were killed in this violation of DIH, including the governor of an indigenous reservation. So it’s one more false positive in which civilian victims of the operation were presented as guerrillas killed in combat.

These false positives are very serious because this implies deception of public opinion

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