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Viewing cable 09BOGOTA1588, AMBASSADOR BROWNFIELD PRESSES COLOMBIAN ARMY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BOGOTA1588 2009-05-20 20:08 2010-12-08 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bogota
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #1588/01 1402003
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 202003Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8772
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8906
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 2258
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 7561
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 3657
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 8267
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001588 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2019 
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV MARR MASS MCAP MOPS PTER CO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR BROWNFIELD PRESSES COLOMBIAN ARMY 
COMMANDER ON HUMAN RIGHTS 

REF: A. BOGOTA 01352 
B. BOGOTA 00613 

Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield 
Reasons 1.4 (b and d) 

SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (C) The Ambassador met Colombian Army Commander Oscar 
Gonzalez on May 8 to voice concern over extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses. Gonzalez said the Army's Human Rights Directorate is facilitating the Prosecutor General Office's (Fiscalia) investigations of human rights cases and is working to improve human rights training. He noted that the Army also meets regularly with 
the ICRC and UNHCHR to discuss human rights cases. Gonzalez 
said reports of extrajudicial killings have fallen sharply since last October, but conceded that the Soacha killings did "incalculable damage" to the Army's image. The Ambassador reiterated our interest in working with the Army to eliminate human rights violations by introducing more effective rules of engagement and strengthening the investigatory role of the Army Inspector General. End Summary. 

2. (C) On May 8, Ambassador Brownfield met with Colombian Army Commander General Oscar Gonzalez. The Ambassador voiced 
concern over extrajudicial killings and reiterated our interest in working with the Army to eliminate human rights abuses. Gonzalez said the Army is committed to strengthening respect for human rights. The Army's Human Rights Directorate is focused on receiving human rights complaints and directing them to the appropriate offices, tracking and 
verifying human rights cases, managing human rights training for officers and rank-and-file soldiers, and facilitating cooperation with the Fiscalia in investigations. Gonzalez said the Directorate is not involved in the legal defense of military personnel accused of human rights violations, leaving this task to a non-governmental organization funded 
by voluntary contributions from military officers and headed by a retired officer. The Ambassador agreed that the legal defense of military personnel is an important issue, but said it should not be handled by the Directorate. 

3. (C) Gonzalez said the Army tries to maintain transparency on human rights issues, citing the International Committee of the Red Cross's regular meetings with military field commanders and its semi-annual human rights reports to the Defense Ministry and service commanders. He noted that the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (UNHCHR) also regularly visits divisional commanders to review reports of extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses. Gonzalez said the Army is extending operational legal advisors to the battalion level and is encouraging these advisors to meet with their Fiscalia counterparts to familiarize them with military planning and operations. The Army is also assigning liaison officers to both the Fiscalia and the Inspector General's office (Procuraduria). 

4. (C) Gonzalez acknowledged that the Soacha killings last September did "incalculable damage" to the Army's image. Still, President Uribe's dismissal of 27 officers and non-commissioned personnel last October has led to a sharp drop in reports of extrajudicial killings, with the Center for Research and Popular Education (CINEP) reporting only one case since then (see reftel A). Gonzalez added that he had 
just dismissed a battalion commander in Covenas, Sucre, for failure to exercise proper controls in an extrajudicial killing case. He noted that the Fiscalia had just ordered the detention of seven soldiers in the killing of the husband of indigenous activist Aida Quilcue last December (see reftel B). 

5. (C) The Ambassador underscored our interest in promoting more effective rules of engagement and in strengthening the Army Inspector General's investigative capacity. Both measures would help eliminate human rights abuses. Gonzalez agreed these steps would be useful in improving the Army's human rights record, and said he would welcome other suggestions in this regard. Gonzalez actively participated 
in a May 11 meeting chaired by Vice Minister of Defense Sergio Jaramillo and Armed Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla to discuss new rules of engagement and develop an effective training program. The meeting adopted the two rules of engagement (ROE) concept--a more permissive set (red card) which allows for use of lethal force as a first option, and a more restrictive set (blue card) which allows for use of lethal force only in self-defense or as a last resort. 
The group called for the ROEs to be finalized by the end of May. Brownfield