You may have seen that Colombia’s transitional justice tribunal recently found that the country’s armed forces likely killed a shocking 6,402 civilians between 2002 and 2008. WOLA is putting on an event today at 4:00 Eastern to talk about it, and I’ll be presenting. Here’s the text of the announcement at WOLA’s website, where you can RSVP:
**Due to emergency security concerns, Sergeant Mora will not present during this panel**
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) cordially invites you to our webinar:
Afro-Colombian Sergeant Carlos Eduardo Mora of Colombia’s 15th Mobile Brigade of Ocaña observed inconsistencies in the combat deaths that members of his battalion were reporting in their counterinsurgency statistics. In 2008, Mora denounced his colleagues for killing civilians and later passing them as enemy combats. These extrajudicial killings were widespread throughout the country and became nationally known—and erroneously termed as “false positives”—when a scandal involving 19 murdered young men from the southwestern Bogotá neighborhood of Soacha was undercovered.
Mora has suffered greatly for his role as a whistleblower, having faced multiple types of retaliation like public humiliation and death threats. His security situation became so serious that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a resolution in 2013 urging the Colombian state to protect Mora and his family.
In February, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz, JEP)—Colombia’s transitional justice tribunal devised in the 2016 peace accord—revealed that the Colombian armed forces committed at least 6,402 extrajudicial killings between 2002 and 2008. In light of these disturbing revelations, WOLA’s Director for the Andes Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli will moderate a panel to discuss the role of individuals like Sergeant Mora and hear from two human rights and U.S. military aid experts. Alberto Yepes, Coordinator for the Human Rights Observatory of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination (Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, CCEU) coalition, will discuss the implications of the JEP’s recent order on extrajudicial killings. Adam Isacson, WOLA’s Director for Defense Oversight, will discuss U.S. funding to Colombia’s armed forces and what actions can be taken to guarantee justice in these horrific cases.
Many thanks to our longtime friends and colleagues at the International Crisis group for joining us at this event. Though the topic is complex and often frustrating to teach, everybody explained well what they’ve been learning in the field, and the points that they wanted to get across. The moderation, interpretation, and technical aspects were all spot-on. We had well over 150 live viewers—I was glad to see the number not dropping as we passed the one-hour mark—and at least 200 more since then.
And don’t miss the February 26 ICG report on coca in Colombia, “Deeply Rooted,” on which this discussion centers.