Colombia: State’s lack of will to prosecute crimes against humanity should trigger ICC’s jurisdiction

23/05/2019
Press release
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The Hague, Bogota – Today the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and three Colombian organizations are submitting a communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking the Prosecutor to take a position asserting the need for the Colombian President to endorse the Statutory Law of the Special Jurisdictions for Peace (JEP) and to refrain from promoting officers linked to acts that are under preliminary examination. Furthermore, the State’s persistent obstruction of genuine investigations and prosecution of members of security forces suspected of serious crimes should trigger the Court’s jurisdiction.

The communication documents 23 cases of extrajudicial executions in which 39 civilians were killed between December 2007 and June 2009 by members of the Artillery Battalion No. 2 “La Popa,” under the command of then Lieutenant Colonel Adolfo León Hernández Martínez. These extrajudical executions are also known as “false positives,” a widespread practice in the 2000s by which as many as 5,000 civilians were executed by the army, falsely presented as “killed in combat.”

Hernández Martínez has never been investigated for these crimes; what’s more, he was recently promoted by President Ivan Duque to the position of Brigadier General in charge of the Command of Transformation of the Army of the Future (COTEF).

The communication also details the obstacles impeding the JEP’s progress in investigating international crimes identified by the ICC. President Duque’s objections to and refusal to sign the JEP’s Statutory Law present a major barrier to attaining justice. His objections have prevented the JEP from having a comprehensive regulatory framework to fulfill its mandate.

The organizations are submitting this communication to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in the context of the latter’s preliminary examination on the situation in Colombia. The Prosecutor has insisted on the State’s duty to investigate extrajudicial executions, particularly the responsibility of high-ranking military officers.

This communication, also presented as a report to the JEP on 7 March, reveals how the "La Popa" batallion simulated combat in which most victims were presented as members of paramilitary groups (Bacrim) or of insurgent groups (ELN or FARC-EP). To create this illusion, members of security forces used different ploys such as falsification of documents, false testimonies of ex-combatants, alteration of crime scenes and use of the military criminal jurisdiction. This strategy aimed to obfuscate the reality that the victims were, in fact, civilians.

Impunity prevails in most instances. In order to ensure accountability beyond the material perpetrators the communication describes the entire chain of command at the time of the events. Hernández Martínez’s superiors were the Commander of the Tenth Armored Brigade Colonel Iván Darío Recuero; the Commander of the First Army Division, Brigadier General Luis Felipe Paredes Cadena; the Commander of Joint Command No. 1 "Caribe" Major General Óscar Enrique González Peña; the commander of the National Army, General Mario Montoya Uribe; the Commander of the Military Forces, General Freddy Padilla de León; and the President of the Republic, Álvaro Uribe Vélez.

The communication will be presented by the following organizations:

FIDH

Comisión Colombiana de Juristas (CCJ)

Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” (CAJAR)

Comité de Solidaridad con los Presos Políticos (CSPP)


Press contacts

FIDH: José Carlos Thissen jcthissen@fidh.org (+51) 95 41 31 650
FIDH: Eva Canan ecanan@fidh.org (+33) 6 48 05 91 57
CCJ: Paola Sánchez jefedeprensa@coljuristas.org
CSPP: Kamila Cruz comunicaciones@comitedesolidaridad.com
CAJAR: Angélica Chaparro prensa@cajar.org

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