The new Prosecutor of the ICC must open an investigation on extrajudicial killings committed by military personnel in Colombia between 2002 and 2008

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Coordination Colombia-Europe-United States (CCEEU) publish today their report “The war is measured in liters of blood” False positives, crimes against humanity: those most responsible enjoy impunity, urging the ICC to open an investigation on extrajudicial killings committed by militaries in Colombia. To date, Colombia has not prosecuted or condemned those who are intellectually responsible for extrajudicial killings but only the material perpetrators.

On June 21, 2012, during a side event to be held in the framework of the 20th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, FIDH and CCEEU will present their report on these extrajudicial killings committed in Colombia, alerting governments and civil society representatives on the impunity that prevails. This report has been transmitted to the Prosecutor of the ICC together with a list of presumed high rank militaries responsible for those international crimes .

FIDH and CCEEU’s report highlights in particular the widespread nature of the phenomenon of false positives in Colombia between 2002 and 2008, as more than 3,000 civilians were killed before being presented as killed in combat. These actions were supported by the highest ranking officials of the Army, who not only did not prevent these crimes taking place, but rather actively promoted them.

During the side event, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions will also present its follow-up report on Colombia which outlined that “cases of extrajudicial executions continue to be reported and progress in criminal and disciplinary investigations remains lacking. The persistent impunity and the lack of accountability for officers is a principal concern.”.

In this regard, FIDH and CCEEU’s report denounces the structural shortcomings in the investigations and trials that have been conducted in Colombia, as demonstrated by the lack of investigations against senior military commanders who are responsible for extrajudicial killings. Indeed, the investigations are carried out in isolation, thereby failing to deal with the phenomenon as a crime against humanity. Neither the widespread nature of the phenomenon, nor the policies that have led to the perpetration of such crimes are taken into account. Additionally, acts of obstruction of justice are reported, and judicial officers, victims, witnesses and human rights organisations are suffering acts of intimidation and harassment.

In its own report the Special Rapporteur acknowledges receiving “information indicating serious threats against the families of the victims”.

Therefore, FIDH and CCEEU urge the Colombian government to respect and implement the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur to significantly strengthen efforts to establish accountability for extrajudicial executions, by sanctioning those at the highest level in the military who are intellectually responsible for extrajudicial executions and not just those materially responsible, purging the Armed Forces of those responsible by action or omission of sponsoring false positives, and taking adequate measures to guarantee the non-repetition of these serious human rights violations.

Should Colombia to fail to investigate, prosecute and punish those high ranking military officials that are most responsible for these crimes, FIDH and CCEEU urge the International Criminal Court to open an investigation on the false positives.

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