An NGO has released a report condemning Colombia’s human rights record as part of a series of articles analysing the relationship between anti-terrorism policies and human rights since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) report notes how shortly after September 11, the US financial aid from Plan Colombia, which had previously been earmarked for fighting drug trafficking, was also used to combat terrorism. At the same time the FARC, the ELN and paramilitary groups were added to the US list of terrorist organizations.
The report goes on to criticize the Colombian government’s actions carried out under the banner of combating terrorism. According to FIDH, “the argument that authorized the state to act lawlessly in order to fight terrorism gained ground under the pretext of just that, the fight against terrorism.” FIDH highlights the human rights abuses of the “false positives” scandal—the extrajudicial killing of civilians by army personnel in order to present them as guerrillas killed in combat—and the operations of the DAS “G3” unit, which carried out wiretappings, threats and assaults against hundreds of human rights defenders, journalists, political and union leaders, members of the opposition and judges.
The report also criticizes the Justice and Peace law providing for the demobilisation of the paramilitary AUC. According to FIDH, “this demobilization process did not neutralize the paramilitary groups. Quite the contrary since their influence within the government grew stronger, culminating in the ‘para-political‘ scandal.” In addition, FIDH condemned the government’s use of civilian informers. The report argues that by “establishing a network of informers, the government involved the civilian population in the armed conflict, thus seriously violating international humanitarian law.” (Colombia Reports, Sept. 2)
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