Cablegate: Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S.

Published: Tue 3 Feb 2004 10:10 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
id: 13712
date: 2/3/2004 22:05
refid: 04BOGOTA1092
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: UNCLASSIFIED
destination: 03STATE333935
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
----------------- header ends ----------------
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: 03 STATE 333935
1. This is in response to reftel request.
Human Rights Strategy Report
2. Although Colombia is a democracy, a major internal armed
conflict financed by drug trafficking and other criminal
activities has created an environment in which serious
violations of human rights, almost all of which are committed
by guerrillas or illegal paramilitaries, are commonplace.
The civilian judiciary is independent of the executive and
legislative branches but confronts profound challenges from
corruption and intimidation by guerrillas, paramilitaries,
and other wealthy criminal organizations. More
significantly, the cumbersome inquisitorial judicial system
is overworked and faces serious resource constraints.
Impunity from prosecution, therefore, is a threat to the
creation of a culture of respect for human rights.
3. The 2003-2004 U.S. human rights and democracy strategy for
Colombia is both proactive and responsive, tackling the root
causes of human rights violations and social unrest while
continuing to invest in short-term emergency humanitarian
assistance. Key strategic objectives include protection of
vulnerable populations, increased access to the justice
system, support for judicial reforms and the rule of law,
promotion of local governance and peace initiatives, and
provision of humanitarian assistance.
4. Working with the Colombian Ministry of Interior and
Justice, USAID has provided security protection assistance to
3,145 people and 71 offices under threat. The protection
program includes threatened human rights workers, union
leaders, journalists, members of the left wing Patriotic
Union Party, mayors, city council members and municipal human
rights workers. The USAID-funded Early Warning System
expanded to 20 regions, allowing it to respond effectively to
170 of 220 alerts and potentially preventing massacres,
forced displacements and other egregious human rights
5. In FY 2003, eleven additional USAID-funded Justice and
Peace Houses -- one-stop legal assistance shops -- were
established for a cumulative total of 33, thereby increasing
access to the justice system for a total of 1.8 million poor
and marginalized Colombians. DOJ has developed and
implemented a multi-faceted strategy to strengthen the GOC,s
capability to investigate and prosecute human rights cases,
providing Colombian judicial police investigators, forensic
examiners, and prosecutors with the necessary training,
technical assistance, and equipment to enhance and upgrade
their individual skill levels. The strategy employs a task
force concept, whereby personnel from 11 satellite Human
Rights Units in the Prosecutor General's Office train and
work together, resulting in a more effective case flow from
the initial criminal investigative stage through final case
resolution. In 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General
conducted major operations against guerrilla and paramilitary
criminal organizations, bringing charges for murder, assault,
extortion, and drug trafficking. In 2003, DOJ trained 840
police assigned to rural outposts with little or no previous
police presence; trained 400 police in accusatory system/oral
trial techniques; and trained 172 prosecutors, judicial
police, and judges in trial advocacy. Also in 2003,
specialized training and state of the art equipment donations
enabled Colombian forensic labs to investigate human rights
violations more effectively. This included the enhancement
of DNA analyzers and the CODIS database; upgrading of the
Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS); updating
of forensic imaging and document analysis systems; upgrading
of the automated fingerprint identification system; and the
design and installation of a wireless network providing
inter-agency connectivity and information sharing. Enhanced
IBIS testing was used in an investigation in the department
of Casanare to link nine separate homicides to the same
weapon, resulting in the arrest of one suspect for four of
the homicides.
6. USAID's Peace Program underwent significant change and
growth in 2003. While it continued to support civil society
initiatives to promote peace and conflict resolution, the
program also developed a working relationship with Colombia's
new High Commissioner for Peace to design and implement
initiatives to support peace negotiations with illegal armed
groups. As negotiations began between the Colombian
government and paramilitary groups, USAID provided advice
regarding policy and programmatic parameters for a possible
demobilization initiative. Also in conjunction with the High
Commissioner and Ministry of Interior and Justice, USAID
established Peaceful Co-Existence Centers in three of the
most conflict-ridden municipalities in Colombia. These
centers provided communities with a neutral space for
dialogue, conflict resolution and social services.
7. USAID's Local Governance Program, which works to improve
the capacity of municipal governments to involve citizens in
local decision-making, provide services, and manage resources
effectively and transparently, supported the establishment of
117 social infrastructure projects in 64 municipalities.
These projects were administered through local citizen
oversight committees that established project priorities and
oversaw their management and financing. In addition, USAID
successfully completed a nationwide public awareness
anti-corruption campaign that reached six million citizens
through radio, newspaper, and television messages, and
standardized internal control units in nineteen government
8. DOJ and USAID worked to help reform Colombia's criminal
justice system in an effort to accelerate the legal process.
DOJ assisted the GOC in drafting a new criminal procedure
code to move the system towards an accusatorial system. The
draft code is currently under consideration in the Colombian
Congress. DOJ and USAID organized joint accusatory trial
technique courses for judges, prosecutors, police, defense
attorneys and investigators. DOJ funded visits for judges
and legislators to observe the accusatory system in practice
in Puerto Rico. DOJ also implemented an instructors' course
at the Prosecutor General's training facility, which trained
instructors to conduct their own courses in forensic
specialties, basic investigative skills, trial techniques,
interview techniques, and crime scene management. Over the
next three years, DOJ and USAID will assist the GOC in
providing training to approximately 3,000 prosecutors, 1,000
judges, 10,000 police investigators, and 1,500 defense
attorneys. In cooperation with the Colombian Justice Sector
High Level Commission, USAID has built 27 trial courtrooms to
complement the shift towards an accusatorial system.
9. Although NGO statistics indicate kidnappings have dropped
approximately 30 percent in 2003, kidnapping remains a
significant problem in Colombia. DOJ assisted the Government
of Colombia in developing and implementing a comprehensive
program to investigate and prosecute kidnapping and extortion
offenses. Six courses in the areas of Human Resources
Intelligence Management, Racketeering Enterprise
Investigations, Kidnapping Investigations and Ransom
Investigations and Interviewing and Interrogation were held
for 180 law enforcement, prosecutorial, and military
personnel. The intimidation of witnesses and judicial sector
personnel is also a serious problem. DOJ provided training
and equipment for GOC protective force personnel in both the
witness and dignitary protection areas, including personnel
from the Bogota mayoral and other GOC ministerial security
10. The ongoing armed conflict in Colombia has displaced
approximately 2.2 million people since 1995. The State
Department,s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration is
funding seven international organizations (IOs) and NGOs in
Colombia that provide emergency humanitarian assistance such
as food, temporary shelter, hygiene & household kits,
psycho-social attention and health care to newly displaced
persons. USAID is also providing mid- to long-term
assistance to displaced persons through seven IOs and NGOs,
focused on economic reintegration of displaced persons where
they reside, and a smaller but significant returnee
component. Program activities include productive projects,
micro-credit programs, vocational training and job placement,
health care, shelter, income generation, improved education
and basic community infrastructure.
11. Although labor union-related homicides and kidnappings
dropped significantly in 2003, violence against labor union
leaders and activists continues to be a serious problem.
Through a grant from DOL, the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center
provided U.S.-based training and technical education to
nearly 40 Colombian trade union leaders who were under
threat. DOL also funded an International Labor Organization
(ILO) project designed to improve labor relations and
generate quality employment for women. A second DOL grant
provided funding to the ILO's International Program for the
Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC). In 2003, almost 3,000
children left their work in low-tech open-pit mines under an
IPEC-funded pilot project.
12. Addendum: USG-Funded Human Rights and Democracy Programs
in Colombia (in U.S. Dollars)
A. USAID Programs (FY 2003)
Administration of Justice
-- Development and Strengthening of Criminal Justice System:
-- Institutional Strengthening and ADR Mechanisms: 4,852,626
-- Improved Capacity of Criminal Justice Sector: 323,547
-- Monitoring and Evaluation: 109,508
Human Rights
-- Prevention: 534,036
-- Protection: 1,509,227
-- Response: 3,130,496
Local Governance
-- Grants and Subcontracts: 1,663,000
-- Social Infrastructure Projects: 3,488,000
-- Technical Assistance and Training: 1,740,000
-- Improve Internal Controls: 600,000
-- Strengthen Citizen Participation: 1,000,000
-- Promote Civic Responsibility and Ethnic Groups: 1,200,000
Peace Initiatives
-- Co-Existence Centers: 2,000,000
-- Grants: 1,000,000
Displaced Persons Programs (grantees)
-- PADF (5 years): 34,200,000
-- IOM (5 years): 43,400,000
-- UNICEF (3.5 years): 2,750,000
-- UNHCR (2 years): 156,000
-- Profamilia (5 years): 10,750,000
-- World Food Program (3 years): 5,100,000
-- Cooperative Housing Foundation, Int,l (3 years):
B. Department of Justice Programs (Total Obligations through
-- Establish Human Rights Units in Colombian National Police
and Prosecutor General's Office: 22,445,480
-- Criminal Code Reform: 999,398
-- Prosecutor Training: 3,497,729
-- Anti-Kidnapping Strategy: 755,095
-- Judicial Police Training: 2,773,587
-- Witness Protection and Judicial Security: 8,262,805
-- Multilateral Case Initiative: 2,777,348
C. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (grantees)
-- International Committee of the Red Cross: 7,920,000
-- UN High Commissioner for Refugees: 1,400,000
-- World Food Program: 1,500,000
-- Pan American Health Organization: 500,000
-- UNICEF: 700,000
-- Cooperative Housing Foundation, Int,l: 5,800,000
-- American Red Cross: 2,000,000
D. USDOL Programs (grantees)
-- AFL-CIO Solidarity Center Training and Technical Education
Program: 1,700,000
-- ILO Labor Relations Project: 2,000,000
-- ILO-IPEC Project: 220,000
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