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Designation of Three Colombian Officials for Human Rights Violations

(FILE) Army troops stand guard in a Colombian village in 2006.

The United States designated three former Colombian officials for their involvement in gross violations of human rights.

Three Colombian Officials for Human Rights Violations
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In late 2016, the Colombian government ratified a peace agreement that ended a bloody conflict between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The conflict lasted for over five decades and cost around 260,000 Colombian lives, with another 80,000 people missing.

Over the half century of fighting, participants on both sides have committed, or been accused of committing, human rights abuses. Therefore, to aid the transition to peace, in early 2017, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, or JEP, was established within the framework of the peace agreement. Its objective is to satisfy the victims of abuses and atrocities, by allowing for the investigation and prosecution of the abusers.

“The United States has proudly supported Colombia’s Peace Accord since its signing in 2016. Colombia’s Peace Accord addresses conflict-related atrocities and abuses which took place over more than 50 years, through a Comprehensive System for Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement.

“This system relies on several transitional justice institutions that advance justice and accountability. In particular, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, [or JEP], works to end impunity for conflict-related crimes.”

In support of the JEP’s actions to end impunity for those who committed crimes against humanity during Colombia’s armed conflict, the United States designated three former Colombian officials for their involvement in gross violations of human rights, pursuant to Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2023.

In 2007, former Colonel Publio Hernán Mejía Gutiérrez headed the La Popa battalion. This unit undertook offensive counter-guerrilla activity and has been accused of extrajudicial executions of civilians in its operations, with the intention of passing them off as guerrillas.

Former Colonel Juan Carlos Figueroa Suárez was designated for also being an officer of the La Popa battalion.

Former General Iván Ramírez Quintero commanded the Colombian Army’s 20th brigade, which was dismantled in 1998 for accusations of human rights violations. In 1985, Ramírez was in charge of the Colombian government’s intelligence and counter-intelligence services. He has been accused of involvement in the 1985 disappearances of numerous persons.

“The United States commends the JEP for its vital work in support of conflict victims and survivors,” said Secretary Blinken, “and will continue to work alongside Colombian and international partners to support the full implementation of the 2016 Peace Accord.”