Human Rights Watch

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Colombia: New Army Commanders Linked to Killings

Toxic Message to Troops, Blow for Victims

Wednesday 27 February 2019


(Washington, DC, February 27, 2019) – The Colombian government has appointed at least nine officers credibly implicated in extrajudicial executions and other abuses to key positions of the army, Human Rights Watch said today. At least three of the officers are under investigation, and prosecutors are investigating killings by forces under the command of the other six.
On December 10, 2018, the government of President Iván Duque appointed General Nicasio de Jesús Martínez Espinel as the new head of the country’s army. On December 21, Gen. Martínez Espinel and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero appointed other new commanders to key army positions. Human Rights Watch has identified evidence linking eight of these officers, as well as General Martínez Espinel, to “false positive” killings and other abuses. From 2002 through 2008, in the cases that have come to be known as false positives, army personnel carried out systematic killings of innocent civilians to boost body counts in the country’s long-running armed conflict.

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