Colombian Military Meets Rights Criteria, To Get Full Aid: US

By Dialogo
September 11, 2009

The United States said it will deliver full military aid to Colombia's armed forces this year now that they have met human rights criteria despite lingering concerns. "There is no question that improvement must be made in certain areas," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a statement. "However, the Colombian government has made significant efforts to increase the security of its people and to promote respect for human rights by its armed forces and has thereby met the certification criteria," Kelly added. The statement said the certification made to Congress on Tuesday "permits the full balance of FY (fiscal year) 2009 funds designated for assistance to the Colombian Armed Forces to be obligated." The trend over the last year has been positive, it said. Not only have years of reform and training boosted respect for human rights by armed forces personnel, but the prosecutor general s office has forged ahead with investigating and prosecuting human rights cases in recent years, it said. It cited the arrest of several generals on human rights charges and the decision to charge five army members with collusion with paramilitary forces and the homicide of 20 civilians. "While these advances are positive, Colombia continues to face several disquieting challenges," it said. It said that there is evidence the "far-reaching reforms" have failed to take full hold with revelations of extrajudicial killings.