Thursday, February 18, 2021

Colombia's Death Squads

 In Colombia, Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), which was set up as part of the peace process after the left-wing Farc rebels signed the 2016 peace deal with the government. The JEP is a transitional court system which was put in place for a period of 10 years to try all participants in the conflict, be they rebels or state members. Those who admit to their crimes up front will avoid jail time, but will be required to contribute in other ways to reconciliation - such as participating in programmes to remove landmines, build key infrastructure or construct monuments.

6,402 civilians were killed by the military between 2002 and 2008 in what was known as  known as "false positives", passing off innocent victims as enemy combatants. This was a period of time where the United States were active in offering support to the Colombian government and decrying the Venezuelan government. The JEP says it does not rule out that the total number of victims may be higher as its investigation is still in the early stages.

Members of the military have given evidence in a number of court cases over the past decade and told how they were pressured by their superiors to drive up their "kill rate" and how they would be rewarded by being given promotions or extra days off. In one case, eight soldiers were jailed for taking four farmers from their homes by force, shooting them in the back and dressing them up as rebels. In other instances, young men were lured from poor neighbourhoods of the capital, Bogotá, with promises of work, only to be murdered and dressed in rebel fatigues.

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