Colombian generals ‘involved in civilian killings’

Human Rights Watch report says Colombian generals have links to systematic killings of 3,000 civilians

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Colombia’s top generals were involved in the systematic killings of 3,000 civilians between 2002 and 2008, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

Dozens of army officials concealed civilian casualties as deaths of rebel fighters, inflating body counts in an effort to promotions and bonuses, the rights group said in a report.

The 95-page-report titled “On Their Watch” cited evidence that the massacres that led to the killings of 3,000 civilians in Colombia were carried systematically but no generals have been on trial, with only 800 soldiers convicted of the killings.

"There is mounting evidence that top military officers were responsible for these atrocious acts," the rights group's executive director for the Americas, Jose Miguel Vivanco, told reporters in Bogota.

The high-ranking military officials involved "have managed to elude justice and have even risen to the highest levels of military command," he said.

A huge scandal broke out in Colombia after the killings known as “false positives” were revealed in 2008.

But the new report alleges that the killings were far more extensive and systematic.

The massacres amount to “one of the worst episodes of mass atrocity in the Western Hemisphere in recent decades,” the report claimed.

The report added that Colombian prosecutors are investigating the allegations of the massacres.

The Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) militants are having peace talks in the Cuban capital, Havana. The two sides have key issues to resolve but the talks have made more progress than the previous attempts.

The FARC is known to be one of the richest armed groups.

Colombia has been fighting the FARC since 1964. The armed group says its aim is to overthrow the government and establish a Marxist regime.

The FARC, which has about 8,000 fighters, is reported to be involved in the drug trade to maintain its armed campaign.

Colombia has been in the grips of civil war, with about 220,000 people killed in more than five decades of conflict.

TRTWorld and agencies