ColombiaOne.comColombia newsJEP Hearing Reveals Soldiers' Involvement in Colombia's 'False Positives' Tragedy

JEP Hearing Reveals Soldiers’ Involvement in Colombia’s ‘False Positives’ Tragedy

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soldiers JEP false positives
21 soldiers acknowledge before the JEP participation in 296 false positives in Colombia – Credit: Video Captura twitter @JEP_Colombia

Twenty-one Colombian soldiers have acknowledged their involvement in 296 cases of “false positives” in Colombia before the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP). These incidents occurred in the Casanare department between 2005 and 2008. These cases involved the killing of 303 people, including minors, who were falsely presented by the military as combat casualties.

The case of “false positives” in Colombia is gradually coming to light, revealing its full brutality. The country’s press coined this euphemism to describe a macabre practice involving military personnel in the murder of non-combatant civilians, falsely portraying them as casualties in combat, within the context of the country’s internal armed conflict. This practice brought benefits such as rest periods, decorations, financial rewards, or other recognitions to those responsible.

In the case being processed before the JEP on September 18 and 19 in Yopal, Casanare, 21 military personnel, a former member of the now-defunct Administrative Department of Security (DAS), the Colombian intelligence agency disbanded in 2010 by President Santos, and 2 civilians are facing charges.

War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

The investigations are being conducted by the Truth Recognition Chamber within the context of Case 03. The hearing will last for two days and is taking place in Yopal, the capital of the Casanare department, where the events occurred between January 2005 and December 2008. During this period, 21 military personnel who were part of the XVI Brigade, a DAS official, and two civilians were involved.

Today, all the accused have acknowledged their responsibility in 296 operations aimed at disappearing and killing 303 non-combatant civilians. Among the accused is Henry William Torres Escalante, a major general, along with 13 other officers, 7 non-commissioned officers, the former DAS official, and the 2 civilians.

They are accused of war crimes against protected persons and crimes against humanity, including murder and forced disappearance. Some of the accused are also charged with using children and adolescents to participate in hostilities, as well as the crime against humanity of gender-based persecution.

Acknowledgment in Front of the Victims

The 24 accused underwent a written acknowledgment process submitted to the JEP’s magistracy and have now publicly admitted their crimes in front of the families of their victims.

The session, which was emotionally charged, allowed the perpetrators to provide details of their actions and, most importantly, to tell the truth to the country about one of the cruelest episodes of Colombia’s internal war. “False positives” were a criminal practice carried out by members of the armed forces during the period known as “Democratic Security” under President Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010). It is estimated that over 6,400 innocent victims, non-combatant civilians, were killed to gain benefits by those responsible.

Only 2 Accused Deny the Facts

In addition to the 24 accused, 21 military personnel and 3 civilians who appeared before the JEP and acknowledged their involvement in the crimes, there are 2 other accused who have not admitted their responsibility for the acts they are charged with: Colonel Cipriano Peña Chivatá, who has since passed away, and Colonel Germán Alberto León Durán, who will face a 20-year prison sentence if found guilty.

The JEP is a tribunal that emerged from the 2016 Peace Agreements between the Colombian state and the FARC. It is a transitional justice mechanism based on the principles of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition. It was conceived as an opportunity to establish restorative justice in Colombia through the recognition of facts and the acceptance of truth.

The tribunal is intended for demobilized FARC members but also for third parties who were involved in Colombia’s internal armed conflict. Established in 2017, it adjudicates crimes committed before December 1, 2016, and its jurisdiction cannot exceed 20 years.

soldiers JEP false positives
Relatives of the victims in the JEP – Credit: Twitter @jep_colombia

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