FOR-Amnesty International Report: Call to Investigate US Military Policy in Colombia

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US Support for Colombian Army Units that Committed Extrajudicial Killings:
A Call to Investigate US Military Policy

May 2008
FOR and Amnesty International-USA have produced a report (download it here) on extrajudicial killings committed by Colombian army brigades financed by the United States, product of research by both organizations. The report reviews US law regulating military assistance, includes extensive data on US-trained army units, violations, maps, analyzes the extent of army killings in areas of US-supported brigades, and includes recommendations to US policy makers.

Executive Summary

In 1996, in part because of the deplorable human rights record of the Colombian security forces, Congress passed the first version of the Leahy Amendment which currently states that “no assistance shall be furnished . . . to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights”.

In 2000, when Congress approved the multi-billion dollar assistance package to Colombia known as Plan Colombia, it established human rights conditions that must be certified by the US Secretary of State as being met by the Colombian Government before a certain percentage of military assistance is released.

Contrary to what one would expect given the tools in place to ensure that the United States is not funding abusive Colombian military units, initial findings from research by Amnesty International and the Fellowship of Reconciliation show that geographic regions with the highest levels of reported extrajudicial executions of civilians by members of the armed forces in 2006 were also largely regions with the most military units receiving US assistance. Between 2000 and 2003 security assistance to Colombia in the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act was about US$1.5 billion. During the four year period between 2004 and 2007, security assistance rose to US$2.5 billion. During the second phase of Plan Colombia and four years into the Secretary’s certification process on Colombia’s human rights progress, extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances by members of the armed forces rose from 218 in 2004-05, to 267 in 2005-06, to 287 in 2006-07.

Initial findings also show that the US is providing assistance to individuals from military units that have been deemed ineligible for US assistance because of being credibly alleged to have committed gross human rights violations such as massacres, extrajudicial executions and “enforced” disappearances.

This map shows which brigades had larger numbers of extrajudicial killings occur in their areas of operation in 2006-07:

While this map shows Army brigade Jurisdictions and level of U.S. support in 2006-07: