Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Colombian army's kill rate paperwork, ghosts of false positives (July 9, 2019)

New Colombian military documents reviewed by Human Rights Watch effectively rank military units based on enemies killed or captured. The previously unreported documents bear chilling similarity to tables senior Colombian army officers created during the false positive killings of the 2000s, writes HRW Americas Division Executive Director José Miguel Vivanco in Semana.

In May, a New York Times reported on military orders to boost kill rates -- which raised human rights concerns -- caused a political outcry over the similarities to the false positives episode. (See May 20's post.) 

The tables, reviewed by Semana, show officials committing to essentially double capture, kill and confrontation rates from last year. Army chief General Nicacio Martínez said the orders were taken out of context and misinterpreted by the media. Nonetheless he said the forms were withdrawn in order to avoid scandal. 

President Iván Duque has created a commission to review the military policies and other documents in light of international standards and best practices. The HRW documents appear to be from June, though they are undated.

More Colombia
  • The Colombian attorney general's office is investigating three senior generals after press reports allege acts of corruption or wrongdoing. Among the accusations: offering money or six months leave in exchange for information on who leaked the controversial army kill rate policy to the press. (SemanaEl EspectadorEFESemana) Last month  Semana reported that officers suspected of denouncing human rights violations and corruption to the press are being harassed and threatened. (See June 24's briefs.)
  • Social leader Tatiana Paola Posso Espitia was killed last week by gunmen outside her home. (TeleSUR)
  • Clashes between criminal organizations in the Bajo Cauca region have citizens living under a reign of terror and violence comparable to the worst years of paramilitary influence, according to a new Semana in-depth report.
News Briefs

  • Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro is on leave of absence as of yesterday, in the midst of a snowballing scandal that raises questions about his actions as an anti-corruption judge, reports the Guardian. (See yesterday's post.)
  • In a new DataFolha poll, 58 percent of respondents said that Moro's decisions in the Car Wash probe should be reviewed if the claims against him are proven to be true. (AFP)
  • The latest revelations in the scandal appear to show Moro conspiring with Lava Jato prosecutors to expose confidential information about corruption in Venezuela in 2017, with political intent. (Folha de S. Paulo)
  • Yesterday Brazil’s federal court of accounts said it would give a finance ministry money laundering unitt 24-hours to explain the supposed investigation of journalist Glenn Greenwald which it called “persecution and abuse of power, to intimidate the journalist” and a waste of public money, reports the Guardian. (See last Thursday's post.)
  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's latest controversial stance: "Look, when a child of eight or nine years old works somewhere, many people denounce it as 'forced labor' or 'child labor,'" he said last week. "But if that child smokes coca paste, nobody says anything ... Work brings dignity to men and to women, no matter their age." (AFP)
  • Nearly a third of toddlers exposed to Zika virus in utero suffered developmental delays, even if they didn't have the microcephaly symptom most commonly associated with the disease, according to a new study published in Nature Medicine. (Washington Post)
  • U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet condemned the United States' treatment of migrant children arriving on the Mexican border. “As a pediatrician, but also as a mother and a former head of state, I am deeply shocked that children are forced to sleep on the floor in overcrowded facilities, without access to adequate health care or food, and with poor sanitation conditions," she said. (New York Times)
  • The U.S. administration's migrant policies are the focus of criticisms from all sides, reports the Washington Post.
  • Concerns over the humanitarian impact of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry are mounting. A new study by Francisco Rodríguez says the impact could be disastrous. The results could exacerbate the migration crisis that is already affecting the region, reports the Financial Times.
  • Rule of law has crumbled in Venezuela, according to an international legal watchdog. The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) released a new report that details how President Nicolás Maduro has usurped the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, reports the Guardian.
  • U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has been criticized by some rights groups for not going far enough in her recent report on abuses in Venezuela. But the document documents the generalized human rights crisis, makes clear that responsibility lies with the Maduro administration, and -- crucially -- notes that abuse is systemic, argues Andrés Cañizalez in Efecto Cocuyo.
  • Thousands of Nicaraguan exiles have sought asylum in Costa Rica -- the most wanted of Daniel Ortega's government all have one thing in common: if they returned home, they say they would be arrested, tortured, or killed. Photoessay by Dawning in the Guardian.
  • Cubans are increasingly using social media to complain about the government -- and sometimes they're even getting responses from authorities, reports the Washington Post.
  • Two Guatemalan indigenous leaders were assassinated last Friday by armed men. They were engaged in a peaceful land rights manifestation said members of the Committee of Campesino Development  (CODECA). (TeleSUR)
  • Argentina's general election campaign is in full swing ahead of primary elections next month. President Mauricio Macri is running for re-election, and is counting on an infrastructure investment blitz to distract voters from Argentina's deep economic recession, reports Al Jazeera.
  • The government is focusing on containing Argentina's weak currency, and the policy might pay off in electoral victory, according to Bloomberg. But Christine Lagarde's exit from the IMF leaves Macri without a key international ally heading into a complicated election period, reports Bloomberg in a separate piece. Her successor might take a different stance with the IMF's largest debtor.
  • Macri's main opponent, Peronist Alberto Fernández, is instead focusing his campaign on reversing the pain the government's economic policies have inflicted on much of the population, reports Reuters.
  • A member of Italian crime group ’Ndrangheta was arrested yesterday in São Paulo along with his son. (Guardian)
  • Jamaican authorities are using Bob Marley inspired marketing to push austerity policies -- a bizarre use of the legacy of a social justice fighter, reports The Nation. In fact, low inflation rates benefit financial elites over workers who want an economy that provides better jobs, writes Keston Perry.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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