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Last Updated:5/3/02
Press Statement, U.S. Department of State, May 1, 2002
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 1, 2002


Colombia: Determination and Certification of Colombian Armed Forces with Respect to Human Rights Related Conditions

The Secretary of State Colin L. Powell determined and certified to the appropriate congressional committees on April 30, 2002 that the Colombian Armed Forces are meeting the statutory criteria related to human rights and ties to paramilitary groups required under section 567 of the Kenneth M. Ludden Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2002 (P.L. 107-115). These conditions are that: the Colombian Armed Forces are suspending military officers credibly alleged to have committed gross violations of human rights or to have aided or abetted paramilitary groups; are cooperating with civilian prosecutors and judicial authorities in prosecuting and punishing in civilian courts such members; and are taking effective measures to sever links with paramilitary groups and to execute outstanding orders for capture of members of such groups.

Section 567 of the FY 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act provides that not more than sixty percent of the FY 2002 funds for the Colombian Armed Forces may be obligated upon such a determination. Section 567 also provides that the remaining forty percent of funds may be obligated after June 1, 2002, only if the Secretary determines and certifies that the Colombian Armed Forces are continuing to meet the statutory criteria.

The Secretary’s determination is based on a thorough, careful evaluation of the conditions in section 567 and the relevant actions and policies of the Colombian military. The process leading to the determination was not intended to be a complete review of the human rights situation in Colombia, but was focused on the statutory criteria. The Secretary made the decision to certify based on the Department’s discussions with the Government of Colombia and Colombia’s Armed Forces, a wide range of international and Colombian non-governmental organizations active on human rights issues, and information provided by our Embassy in Bogotá.

Despite some real progress, both we and the Government of Colombia recognize that the protection of human rights in Colombia needs improvement. While the vast majority of human rights abuses are committed by the three terrorist organizations in Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the Government of Colombia has assured us of its understanding that the protection of human rights is a special responsibility of government. A secure, prosperous democratic Colombia cannot be achieved if human rights abuses and impunity for human rights abusers is allowed.

Human rights are central to our policy in Colombia, and we are committed to continue working with the Government of Colombia on concrete measures it should take to make further progress in improving the human rights performance of its Armed Forces, including ending military-paramilitary collaboration.

As of May 3, 2002, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/9891.htm
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