HomeNewsBrief'Paramilitaries Behind Majority of Colombia Human Rights Violations'
BRIEF

'Paramilitaries Behind Majority of Colombia Human Rights Violations'

COLOMBIA / 24 MAY 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A new report by a Colombian non-governmental organization (NGO) that works in close association with Colombia's Jesuit order asserts that the majority of human rights violations registered in 2012 were committed by neo-paramilitary organizations.

The NGO, known as the Center for Investigation and Popular Education (CINEP), states in a new report that paramilitary groups -- which the government refers to as "criminal bands," or BACRIM -- participated in 565 cases of human rights violations in 2012. The second greatest violator of human rights in Colombia are the police, with 268 cases registered last year, followed by the military, with 187 cases. 

In terms of violations of international humanitarian law -- which applies to all actors in the Colombian conflict -- CINEP states that the BACRIM were responsible for 493 cases, followed by the FARC, with 347 cases. Smaller guerrilla organization the National Liberation Army (ELN) committed 48 violations.

By CINEP's count, 2012 saw 20 "false positive" cases, referring to instances in which Colombia's security forces committed extrajudicial killings, and then presented the bodies as guerrillas killed in combat. 

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CINEP, which was originally established by the Jesuits in 1972, is considered one of Colombia's most respected human rights watchdogs. Its new report suggests that while the "false positives" phenomenon was strongly associated with the conduct of the security forces under President Alvaro Uribe, the practice has not yet disappeared completely.

Nevertheless, 2012 still represents a significant drop in the number of "false positive" cases detected during previous time periods in Colombia. According to CINEP's count, the year with the highest number of "false positive" cases out of the past decade was 2007, which saw 239 cases reported. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has estimated that between 2004 and 2008, more than 3,000 people were subjected to extrajudicial killings, primarily carried out by the army.

The CINEP report also notes some shifts in the way "false positive" cases are reported, stating that there have been some cases in which victims were presented as slain drug traffickers rather than guerrillas. 

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