PBI-Colombia accompanies the CSPP and CJL at ceremony where retired Colonel returns medal linked to extrajudicial killings
On February 9, PBI-Colombia tweeted:
“We accompany in Medellín the @CorpoJuridicaLi [Corporation for Judicial Liberty] and @CSPP_ [Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners] in a symbolic act and recognition of victims of #Extrajudicial Executions. Army Colonel (retired) Jaime Pinzón Amézquita returns “public order medal” merit received for carrying out #FalsePositives.
The Spanish news agency EFE reports: “Retired Army Colonel Jaime Humberto Pinzón Amézquita returned a decoration on Thursday [February 9] during a symbolic act held in Medellín to ‘dignify’ the victims of ‘false positives’ and apologize for these war crimes. Pinzón, who acknowledged before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) his responsibility in at least 53 murders of civilians, left in the hands of groups of victims a medal awarded for his military actions 18 years ago.”
And the EFE article further notes: “JEP magistrate Nadiezhda Henríquez pointed out that this restoration exercise, which was accompanied by the Corporación Jurídica Libertad (CJL) and the Committee of Solidarity of Political Prisoners (CSPP), is ‘very important’ within a judicial process ‘so complex’.”
The false positives scandal
Last year, The Guardian reported: “A special peace tribunal [the JEP] in Colombia has found that at least 6,402 people were murdered by the country’s army and falsely declared combat kills in order to boost statistics in the civil war with leftist rebel groups. That number is nearly three times higher than the figure previously admitted by the attorney general’s office.”
That article adds “The killings, referred to in Colombia as the ‘false positives scandal’, took place between 2002 and 2008, when the government was waging war against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), a leftist guerrilla insurgency, which ultimately made peace with the government in 2016. Soldiers were rewarded for the manipulated kill statistics with perks, including time off and promotions.”
False positives and free trade with Canada
We recall that it was at the time of these extrajudicial killings that Canada began “free trade” talks with Colombia.
Canada announced in August 2002 that preliminary talks would begin with Andean countries (including Colombia). By June 2007, that was narrowed down to Colombia and Peru. On June 6, 2008, after five rounds of negotiations, Canada and Colombia concluded their negotiations on the agreement.
When Yessika Hoyos Morales with the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) visited Ottawa in May 2009 to speak against the agreement, she told Members of Parliament: “Extrajudicial executions by the national army have grown a lot, achieved through what is called ‘false positives’. The office of the public prosecutor reported that as of September 2009, they had been investigating 2,077 such executions. People were killed by the national army, by people who were supposed to protect them.”
At that time, she stated: “If Canada ratifies the free trade agreement it will give a message to Colombians and to the whole international community that Canada supports a government that violates human rights.”
Despite her pleas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government passed the implementation act for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement with the support of the opposition Liberals on June 14, 2010.
We continue to follow this situation.