Colombia’s ex-president Juan Manuel Santos, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for bringing an end to the country’s long internal war, publicly apologized June 11 for his role in the practice of “false positives“—extrajudicial executions by the armed forces, in which the victims were reported as guerillas slain in combat. The apology came in testimony before Colombia’s Truth Commission, created under the peace process that Santos himself initiated. Santos admitted that most of the “false positives” took place when he served as defense minister under the hardline president Álvaro Uribe, and that he initially turned a blind eye to the practice.
In his testimony, Santos particularly mentioned the case of Soacha, a town in Cundinamarca department where several local youths were executed after having been recruited as laborers—apparently in a ruse by the armed forces.
Said Santos: “I am left with remorse and deep regret that during my ministry many, many mothers, including those from Soacha, lost their children to this ruthless practice—innocent young people who should be alive today. That should never have happened. I acknowledge it and ask the pardon of all the mothers and all their families, victims of this horror, from the depths of my soul.”
A recent report by Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) concluded that 6,402 non-combatant civilians were killed by soldiers who had to meet combat casualty quotas between 2002 and 2008. (El Tiempo, BBC Mundo, Al Jazeera)
Photo: Contagio Radio