Wednesday, February 24

False positives: Colombia’s transitional justice raises more than 6,400 ‘false positives’ under the government of Álvaro Uribe | International

The burial of a body identified by the JEP in the Dabeiba cemetery, Antioquia, in February 2020.
The burial of a body identified by the JEP in the Dabeiba cemetery, Antioquia, in February 2020.

The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), the transitional justice court in charge of trying the most serious crimes committed during the armed conflict in Colombia, established that between 2002 and 2008 there were more than 6,400 victims of the so-called “false positives”, the euphemism with which the murders of civilians by the military are known to present them as guerrillas killed in combat. That figure almost triples the 2,248 that the Prosecutor’s Office had previously reported in its reports.

“The JEP establishes that at least 6,402 people were killed illegitimately to be presented as combat casualties throughout the national territory between 2002 and 2008,” said the Truth Acknowledgment Chamber of the high court, arising from the peace agreement, on Thursday. by making public the prioritization strategy of the case 03, related to false positives. These crimes, perpetrated mainly during the two terms of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010), the most staunch opponent of negotiations with the FARC, continue to be a permanent source of shock in a society that seeks to turn the page of violence without avoiding the truth.

As part of the process to assess the phenomenon of extrajudicial executions, the court has verified a huge volume of information that includes four databases. “The figures of the Accusatory Oral Criminal System (SPOA), the Judicial Information System of the Prosecutor’s Office (SIJUF), the Observatory of Memory and Conflict of the National Center for Historical Memory (CNMH) and the Coordination Colombia Europe United States (CCEEU) differ regarding the magnitude of the crime investigated by the JEP ”, said the high court. “However, the different official and non-governmental sources identified the period from 2002 to 2008 as the one with the highest number of victims. The result shows that 78% of the total historical victimization was recorded during this stage ”.

The first phase of investigation, detailed the JEP, focuses on six territories of the country: Antioquia, Norte de Santander, Huila, Casanare and Meta, as well as the Caribbean coast. Two out of every three victims appeared in 10 of the 32 departments of Colombia, which include all the prioritized territories. The voluntary versions already provided by some involved in the case 03, which addresses the “deaths unlawfully presented as combat casualties by state agents,” have detailed the pressure on the army to obtain results in exchange for rewards.

“Until the army is honest and tells the truth, it is shameful but more mass graves such as Dabeiba will appear with our children, husbands, parents and loved ones who one day left never to return,” Luz Marina reacted on her social networks Bernal, one of the founders of the Mothers of Soacha, a movement of relatives of victims of false positives. His message refers to the exhumations carried out by the JEP in the Catholic cemetery of Dabeiba, a mountainous area about four hours from Medellín, in northwestern Colombia, where the bodies of alleged victims of extrajudicial executions have been recovered.

Four years after the signing of the peace agreement between the State and the extinct FARC guerrilla, Colombia is approaching the first substantive judicial decisions on more than half a century of armed conflict. Last month, the JEP charged the leadership of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – now disarmed and converted into the political party renamed Comunes – a series of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to kidnapping, one of their practices. more cruel and repudiated. This unprecedented accusation took place within the framework of case 01, which addresses the “taking of hostages and serious deprivation of liberty committed by the FARC-EP.”

Kidnapping is the most advanced of the seven major processes – or ‘macro cases’ – that transitional justice has opened up to now, and the indictment is considered its first major result. The case 03, “Deaths unlawfully presented as combat casualties by State agents” is the other more advanced macro-case, in which a decision to determine facts and conduct is expected in 2021.

The JEP, considered the backbone of the peace accords, has been forced to navigate in the midst of the polarization that has characterized Colombian society since the talks in Havana, and is advancing in its investigations despite multiple obstacles. The peace court privileges the full truth, and establishes alternative penalties to jail in exchange for those involved to confess their crimes and make reparations to the victims. Together with the Truth Commission and the Unit for the Search of Persons Presumed Missing, the JEP is part of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition arising from the agreements, which has had the robust support of the international community .

The system, however, has been the target of attacks by former President Uribe, Iván Duque’s political mentor and founder of the Democratic Center, the ruling party. Uribe, who insists on repealing the JEP and modifying the agreements, considered Thursday’s decision as a “new outrage by the JEP for false positives” in a statement he posted on Twitter. “I have never evaded justice, that when it comes to me, many pressure or replace it at least sowing suspicions,” said the former president, who resigned his seat in the Senate to face a process for witness tampering.

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