to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright from Reps. James McGovern (D-Massachusets)
and John Joseph Moakley (D-Massachusetts), February 3, 2000
of the United States,
Washington, DC, February 3, 2000.
Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC.
Dear Secretary Albright:
In the President's State of
the Union Address and in the media, it has been reported that the Administration
will submit a supplemental request to provide as much as $600 million
in counter-narcotics assistance to Colombia, primarily assistance to the
Colombian Armed Forces. It is our understanding this is but one piece
of an overall $1.3 billion package, primarily of military, military-related
and counter-narcotics assistance.
We share your concerns about
the threat to Colombia's democracy and economic development from narcotics
traffickers, rebel forces and paramilitary groups. However, it is clear
our current policy, which has already involved hundreds of millions of
dollars in assistance to the Colombian security forces, has not reduced
coca cultivation in Colombia, the flow of cocaine or heroin to the U.S.
from Colombia, or the profits of drug traffickers. Rather than increase
funding for a strategy that has not proven effective and requires even
larger amounts of military assistance for the foreseeable future, we believe
the U.S. and other friends of Colombia must provide stronger support for
diplomatic efforts to strengthen the peace process and promote stronger
economic and alternative development programs, thereby creating the conditions
necessary for a more effective counter-narcotics strategy. These objectives
should not be relegated to poorly funded `add-ons' to large-scale military
We are also concerned about
providing substantial assistance to the Colombian Armed Forces, which
has a long history of human rights violations, including support for paramilitary
groups. Our concern is compounded by the lack of accountability in the
Colombian military for human rights violations committed by military personnel.
Even when Colombian government prosecutors have abundant evidence showing
that high-ranking military personnel have committed serious violations,
these officers are rarely prosecuted fully or punished. Recent measures
by Colombia's leaders to reform the Military Penal Code and criminalize
torture, genocide and forced disappearance are important steps forward,
but they are not yet final. Further, they do not adequately address other
crimes against humanity, such as extrajudicial killings or the continuing
lack of accountability of military tribunals.
The need for accountability
is critical. If the U.S. does provide assistance, it should be conditioned
on the rigorous application of the August 1997 ruling of Colombia's Constitutional
Court, which requires that crimes against humanity allegedly committed
by military personnel be investigated and tried in civilian courts. Neither
the Colombian military nor the Superior Judicial Council has abided by
this Constitutional Court ruling: they have continued to refer human rights
cases to military tribunals. We believe that as a condition of U.S. assistance
to the Colombian Armed Forces, the Government of Colombia take the necessary
measures to require the military to support civilian jurisdiction in cases
involving credible allegations of human rights abuse by military personnel,
including cases where officers are accused of conspiring to commit or
facilitate murders and massacres. In this way, President Pastrana can
ensure that all cases involving human rights abuses by military personnel
are sent to civilian courts, which are best equipped to investigate them
impartially and guarantee due process.
The Administration should
also provide periodic reports to Congress on the number of Colombian military
and police personnel who are investigated, prosecuted and convicted of
human rights violations in both the civilian and military justice system.
The reports should include the sentences they receive and the number suspended
from active duty pending the outcome of such proceedings. Such Administration
documentation will allow the Congress to assess the extent of accountability
by the Colombian military for human rights violations.
We also believe that U.S.
assistance should be conditioned on actions by the Colombian Government
to ensure that all links, at all levels, between the Colombian security
forces and paramilitary groups are severed. U.S. assistance should not
be provided to those who aid or abet or tolerate the activities of paramilitary
groups, which are most responsible for internally displaced people, as
well as responsible for human rights violations and narcotics trafficking.
The capture of paramilitary leaders would be an important measure of the
Colombian government's commitment to this goal.
For Congress to be able to
assess the extent to which the links between the military and paramilitary
groups have been severed, the Administration should provide periodic reports
on the enforcement by the Colombian National Police and the Armed Forces
of outstanding arrest warrants against paramilitary leaders and members,
the suspension from active duty of military personnel credibly alleged
to have aided or abetted the activities of the paramilitaries, and the
prosecution in the civilian justice system of military personnel for human
rights violations, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder, committed
in the course of their support for paramilitary groups.
As you well know, respect
for human rights and accountability for human rights violations require
a civilian court system that functions effectively. Our assistance should
include, therefore, funds to strengthen Colombia's civilian justice system.
This should include reform of the rules governing disciplinary proceedings
carried out by the Colombian Government's Office of the Procuraduria against
members of the military and police. These reforms should also include
the elimination of the statute of limitations on crimes against humanity
and the establishment of a policy to immediately dismiss and prosecute
in civilian courts any officers found responsible for such crimes.
It is vitally important that
U.S. assistance to Colombia be used to support human rights organizations
and monitors, protect the security of human rights defenders, and strengthen
non-governmental organizations and civil society. U.S. Embassy personnel
should also investigate reports of human rights violations in accordance
with the purposes of the Leahy provisions enacted into law (Section 564,
PL 106-113 and Section 8098, PL 106-79).
As you prepare to send to
Congress your proposal for increased assistance to Colombia, we hope you
will seriously consider these important issues. As always, we look forward
to working with you to achieve our shared goals of supporting a democratic
Colombia, where the human rights and welfare of its people are safeguarded.
James P. McGovern,
Member of Congress.
John Joseph Moakley,
Member of Congress.
As of March 13, 2000, this
document is also available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r106:H16FE0-318: