Colombian Government Apologizes for Killings of Civilians in Scandal

Colombian Government Apologizes for Killings of Civilians in Scandal

The Colombian Defence Minister issued a public apology for the killing of 19 civilians, including Beatriz Mendez’s son and nephew, nearly two decades after their deaths. The state acknowledged its responsibility for the deaths and cleared the victims’ names of any wrongdoing. President Luis Ospina Gutierrez also issued apologies, marking the first time the state admitted its role in the scandal known as the “false positives” case.

The term “false positives” refers to the practice of murdering civilians and falsely presenting them as rebels in order to inflate combat “kills” claimed by soldiers. This manipulation of statistics allowed the military to portray progress in its fight against the FARC, the largest rebel group at the time.

Weimar Castro Mendez and Edwar Rincon Mendez, last seen on June 21, 2004, were reported as rebel fighters killed in combat by the army two days later. Their bodies, dressed in blood-stained rebel fatigues and riddled with bullets, were discovered by Beatriz Mendez. The killings were part of a broader pattern, with experts estimating that the acknowledged 19 deaths represent only a fraction of the government’s responsibility. Between 2002 and 2008, at least 6,402 civilians were extrajudicially killed, according to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a tribunal established as part of the peace agreement between the FARC and the government.

The JEP has initiated investigations into more than 3,500 military members for their involvement in the killings. Human rights advocates argue that the deaths reflect a systemic failure within the institution. The International Court of Transitional Justice (ICTJ) emphasizes that the state has a duty to protect human rights and prevent such violations.

Controversy surrounds the issue in Colombia, as right-wing politicians deny the systematic nature of the crimes and their connection to army superiors. Previous administrations, including those of President Uribe and President Santos, have also avoided acknowledging the systemic problem. However, military officials testifying before the JEP have revealed that state policies and pressure from superiors motivated the crimes. The JEP has indicted three generals, including General Montoya, who is charged with the extrajudicial killings of 130 civilians during his command.

At a public event, relatives of the victims gave emotional testimonies, with some refusing to accept the state’s apology and others calling for former presidents Uribe and Santos to apologize as well.

Author: CrimeDoor

Leave a Reply

Share on:

[mailpoet_form id="1"]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter