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21. Department of State 2nd annual report re Colombian armed forces (April 2004)


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Colombia: Report on Reform Activities

Introduction

This report is submitted pursuant to section 694(a) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) which states:

(a) REPORT ON REFORM ACTIVITIES-

(1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and not later than April 1 of each year thereafter, the Secretary shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the status of activities funded or authorized, in whole or in part, by the Department or the Department of Defense in Colombia to promote alternative development, recovery and resettlement of internally displaced persons, judicial reform, the peace process, and human rights.

(2) CONTENTS- Each such report shall contain the following:

(A) A summary of activities described in paragraph (1) during the previous 12-month period.

(B) An estimated timetable for the conduct of such activities in the subsequent 12-month period.

(C) An explanation of any delay in meeting timetables contained in the previous report submitted in accordance with this subsection.

(D) An assessment of steps to be taken to correct any delays in meeting such timetables.

This is the second report submitted in accordance with that section. Our first report covered the twelve months prior to the date of enactment of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (P.L. 107-228), which was coincidental with fiscal year 2002. This report provides information on United States programs in Colombia for fiscal year 2003.

As further requested by House Managers Report 108-222, we are also including information on the progress of USAID funded programs which provide assistance to Afro-Colombian communities.

United States policy towards Colombia continues to support the Colombian Government’s efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, intensify counter-narcotics efforts, foster socio-economic development, address humanitarian needs and end the threats to democracy proposed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

The programs described in this report contribute to achieving these policy goals and we appreciate the continuing bipartisan support received from the Congress.

Alternative Development

 

(A) Summary of Activities

 

The United States is committed to Alternative Development (AD) as an integral component of the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI) and began programs in Colombia during FY 01. In FY 02, a strategic review of USAID’s

AD program was undertaken seeking to make the program more effective in the face of challenges it had identified and which included the poor security environment, high costs and low agricultural productivity in southern Colombia, limited Colombian Government implementation capacity and a lack of social cohesion in many of the areas intended to receive benefits.

 

That review concluded that the AD program should be allowed a reasonable amount of time in which to produce results, but that legal crops do not necessarily need to provide incomes that are equivalent to amounts earned from illegal activities because licit crops:

 

· Are usually associated with lower levels of violence;

· Are accompanied by greater community cohesion;

· Result in the construction of community infrastructure by USAID or the GOC;

· Are accompanied by technical training in new technologies;

· Are not subject to seizure by police or military officials; and

· Are not destroyed by the Colombian National Police (i.e. spray operations), resulting in no income.

 

Based on this review, USAID adjusted the AD program strategy in six ways during FY 02 and early FY 03 to accommodate the constraints it had identified.

Important modifications to AD programs included decisions to:

 

· Reduce programs with agro-industrial activities in non-competitive, isolated rural areas;

· Increase emphasis on larger infrastructure projects to provide employment and improve the environment for future development;

· Initiate Voluntary Eradication Agreements (VEAs) with entire communities that require immediate eradication of coca as a condition for AD assistance;

· Tighten links between USAID's AD and Local Government (LG) projects;

· Accelerate expansion of AD activities beyond Southern Colombia;

· Increase focus on eradication and interdiction as the primary incentives for farmers to discontinue production of drug crops.

The revised program has continued to move expeditiously in FY 03 to expand activities beyond southern Colombia and is now working in selected areas of northern, southern and western Colombia. This expansion is focusing on areas with adequate agro-climatic, marketing and security conditions and which have good potential for AD success. We are pleased to note the recognition in House Report 108-222 of the need for adequate public security and other conditions in order to have viable AD programs and appreciate the continued strong support they receive from the Congress.

By the close of FY 03, USAID had made progress in all its AD activities and had benefited cumulative totals of 31,170 families and supported 38,563 hectares of licit crops in both coca and poppy areas. (In FY 02 the respective numbers were 16,825 families and 11,842 hectares.) Farmers’ confidence in the program increased as they received promised AD assistance and communities became eager to participate in 2003.

In addition, AD programs at the end of FY 03 had reached a cumulative total of 482 social and productive infrastructure projects in the Departments of Putumayo, Narino, Cauca, Caqueta, Bolivar, Antioquia and Huila. Projects included the construction or rehabilitation of roads, schools, sewage systems, bridges, and similar types of local infrastructure. These projects were designed to be as labor intensive as possible in order to provide maximum employment opportunities for local people and to generate income for the community. Local NGOs and cooperatives have received institutional strengthening assistance and a phytosanitary center continued to receive support in order to facilitate the export of tropical fruits.

The AD program has several major implementers in the field working on behalf of AID in most of the departments where relatively large amounts of coca and/or opium poppies are grown and in the Department of Cundinamarca, where institutional strengthening initiatives are taking place.

USAID’s Local Governance (LG) program, which is focused on strengthening state presence through improved municipal management and citizen participation in decision-making, works closely with the AD program. By the end of FY 03, the LG program had completed a total of 148 social and productive infrastructure projects in more than 55 municipalities in the Departments of Caquetá, Putumayo, Narino, Cauca, Huila, Tolima, Bolivar and Antioquia.

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

Much of USAID’s work in Colombia is seriously affected by the violence in the region in which it is carried out. Given that it is not possible to predict the level of violence or its impact, projections for the next twelve months are based on what we believe we will encounter, but are subject to change. With that clarification, AD projections for FY 04 are as follows:

1. Number of additional families benefiting from AD activities:

28,309 for a cumulative total of 59,479.

2. Number of additional hectares of licit crops supported:

7,209 for a cumulative total of 45,772.

3. Number of additional infrastructure projects completed under

AD component: 68 for a cumulative total of 550.

4. Number of additional infrastructure projects completed under

LG component: 93 for a cumulative total of 241infrastructure projects.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

Families benefiting from AD activities: Our goal was nearly 40,000 families (37,329) but we actually reached a total of 31,170 families.

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

USAID’s adoption of a strategic adjustment in program focus from crop substitution to income substitution, greater involvement of the private sector and an emphasis on program sustainability temporarily reduced the pace of implementation of newly designed AD activities and therefore the target for the number of families benefited by expanded licit economic opportunities was not met. Nevertheless, the actual increase, of 14,345 families, nearly doubled the previous total number. We expect that implementation will continue to accelerate significantly in FY 04.

Humanitarian and Development Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

(A) Summary of Activities

The Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) Bureau of the Department of State funds programs in Colombia that provide emergency humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) during the first three months of displacement. USAID’s mid- to long-term development assistance for IDPs normally begins after PRM’s emergency assistance is finished. PRM and AID closely coordinate project funding; to prevent duplication of programs and they also coordinate with the Red de Solidaridad Social, the Colombian government’s agency responsible for IDPs. PRM funds both international and non-governmental organizations.

During 2003 PRM programmed $22 million, including $10 million in ACI funding, to support programs in the areas of protection, food aid, shelter, sanitation, basic health care, and post conflict counseling. In 2003, PRM programs have benefited over an additional 173,000 conflict victims in Colombia. PRM also supports the dissemination of international humanitarian law information to the Colombian military and police, health care workers, and illegal armed groups. A regional Refugee Coordinator, based in Bogota, oversees PRM’s IDP and refugee programs in Colombia.

USAID provides non-emergency support following the first 90 days of internal displacement and also assists other vulnerable populations. In FY 03, 670,650 individuals directly benefited from USAID’s IDP programs. The total number of IDPs assisted by USAID from October 1, 2000 through September 30, 2003 was 1,215,856. The IDPs received assistance in the areas of health care, psychosocial assistance, community strengthening, income and employment generation, urban assistance (shelter, water and sanitation), and education.

Furthermore, 685 child combatants were assisted during FY 03, bringing the total number of child combatants supported to 1,176 at the end of the fiscal year.

 

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

The number of IDPs is a function of the displacements caused by violence. Our best estimate is that during FY 04 the United States Government will:

1. Provide support services to 150,000-200,000 additional IDPs, although we hope that there will be a sustained continuation of the decrease in violence that drives people from their homes.

2. Assist an additional 350 child soldiers.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

n/a.

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

n/a

Judicial Reform Programs

(A) Summary of Activities

In December 2002, the Colombian Congress adopted wide-ranging changes approved earlier to the Colombian Constitution, setting the stage for the introduction of a new criminal justice system in Colombia. In FY 2003, Colombia made substantial progress in its move to a more fully accusatory criminal justice system. It will begin implementing the new system in January 2005, with the anticipated enactment of a new criminal procedure code in FY 04.

Specifically, these changes will enable Colombia to move from its current written inquisitory system to an accusatory system in which Colombian prosecutors will work more closely with police investigators to present an accusation and supporting evidence at an open, public trial, presided over by an impartial judge, during which the accused is afforded an opportunity to confront and rebut the evidence presented against him or her.

The new system is set to be implemented on a regional basis, beginning with Bogota and the coffee region (Departments of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio). Code Reform efforts in FY 2003 focused on assisting in the drafting of the new criminal procedure code as well as preparing for the transition toward an accusatory system through cost and implementation studies, training and education in the proposed accusatory system and new criminal procedure code.

The effort to reform the Colombian criminal justice system has been a long, challenging process, and many obstacles remain before its effective implementation. The proposed criminal procedure code still must be enacted in its original accusatory form. (Proposed changes in the Colombian Congress could significantly alter the effectiveness of the draft code.) It will be necessary to train thousands of government officials in the new system over the next three years. An aggressive, concentrated effort has been established and is underway to train prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys and investigators beginning with the identified areas of initial implementation.

The new Colombian Criminal Procedure Code, currently under consideration by the Colombian Congress, and the transition toward an accusatory system, if adopted, supported and properly implemented, should provide Colombia with a significantly stronger, more responsive and more effective system of criminal justice, a key element in Plan Colombia reforms.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is working closely with the Colombian Government, primarily the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office and the various Colombian police agencies to implement this important transition. The focus of this assistance is practical and conceptual training to ensure the necessary change in mindset and technical skills to implement an accusatory system.

For the police, the heart of this program is the “investigator as a witness” training course. This two-week course involves both conceptual classroom study and practical exercise phases, culminating with mock trials. To date, 1,000 judicial police have taken the course, with a goal of training a total of 10,000 judicial police.

A similar two-week program has been designed for prosecutors, focusing on prosecution concepts and strategy, as well as practical exercises and technical skills training. This program also culminates in mock trials.

In addition, a one-week training program for Colombian judges is being developed, also combining conceptual and technical skills training through practical exercises. This program is being developed in coordination with the Colombian Judicial Council and USAID. Defense attorneys are being trained by USAID.

In 2003, DOJ also worked closely with the various Colombian police agencies to develop a “unified” judicial police-training curriculum providing consistent training for all Colombian police.

Within the anti-corruption training activity, 225 police officials received training in worldwide corruption tendencies, ethics and values, conducting corruption investigations, investigative tools, legal aspects, and case studies. Eighty judicial police received training in the management of electronic surveillance evidence. Future Judicial Police initiatives in development include training and technical assistance for a Judicial Police Deviant Criminal Behavioral Unit, an anti-corruption program, and an evidence room-chain of custody project. Within the money laundering program activity, a program is being designed to sharpen investigative skills needed to counter the black market peso exchange and bulk money/arbitrage techniques used by criminal organizations laundering drug profits.

The DOJ Forensic Program employs a five-point strategy to enhance the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes such as murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, and human rights violations. FY 2003 saw the installation and donation of the DNA CODIS database; the installation of the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS); providing training and equipment in Forensic Imaging and Question Document (QD) analysis; the upgrade of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS); and the development of an inter-agency connectivity and information sharing Wireless Network among the police and prosecutor authorities. The benefit of a strong forensic program has already been demonstrated. For example, Colombian authorities arrested a Bogota man for murder of a young girl. DNA analysis found the hair from the man on the body of the girl, and the girl's hair on a broom in the man’s apartment.

Throughout 2003, DOJ continued its work in developing the Colombian Prosecutor General’s specialized law enforcement task forces (national and regional) in Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering, Narcotics, Anti-Corruption, and Human Rights. This included specialized training and technical assistance in the particular areas of law to develop and enhance investigative and prosecutorial capability and capacity of these units. This training has included a financial analysis, database management and accounting principles course that has been provided to more than 400 prosecutors, investigators and analysts that investigate complex money laundering and corruption cases. In addition, office equipment and vehicles have been provided.

DOJ continues its comprehensive judicial security program, administered by the U.S. Marshals Service to further develop a professional Colombian protective force to provide security for judicial officers (judges, prosecutors and investigators) as well as designated Colombian government officials. The program involves intensive two-week courses in protective procedures for Colombian personnel based on U.S. Marshals training for U.S. personnel, and the providing of armored vehicles, body armor, and radios and other communication equipment. The training and equipment are being used to protect the human rights investigative units, other high-risk prosecutors and investigators, and judges.

The U.S. Marshals Service is also working with its Colombian counterparts to develop an effective witness protection program in Colombia, a critical component for the development of the reformed Colombian criminal justice system. In FY 2003, this program was redirected from a safe-site construction focus to provide training and equipment that will result in the expansion and strengthening of the existing program. The program will also include training and equipment for the “Procurador General’s” witness protection program.

In FY 2003 the U.S. Coast Guard, the Colombian Navy, Prosecutor General’s Office and DOJ conducted a series of maritime interdiction conferences on a regional basis in Colombia, whereby U.S. Coast Guard and the Colombian Navy work jointly to seize drug shipments, and bring successful prosecutions in Colombia and the United States. These important encounters have helped to identify and correct weaknesses in the evidence and intelligence sharing protocol and provided a forum for Colombian prosecutors to interact with the investigators from the Colombian Police and Navy, resulting in working groups that address concerns in Colombian prosecutions. It also resulted in a working group that is addressing regulatory licensing controls on the manufacture and use of go-fast type boats in Colombia.

DOJ and the various US law enforcement agencies have developed an extensive joint and collaborative investigation cooperation program. This cooperation has resulted in significant successful arrests, prosecutions and seizures in both countries as well as in other countries.

Of particular significance, the extradition relationship between Colombia and the United States is the best and most successful of all U.S. bilateral extradition relationships. From 1999 to date, more than 170 Colombian nationals have been extradited to the United States to stand trial for narcotics and other criminal activity. This extraordinary number demonstrates the close cooperation in law enforcement that exists between the United States and Colombia.

In its support of key Plan Colombia initiatives, USAID is also implementing programs to strengthen the Colombian justice system, expand access to community-based legal services, promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and strengthen the capacity of justice sector institutions to carry out their functions in a more timely, open, and fair manner.

Through September 30, 2003, USAID established 33 Casas de Justicia, or Justice Centers, have been established. These Casas provide a low cost local venue for criminal and civil cases as well as alternative dispute resolution services, and frequently are the site of local government services as well. They are bringing judicial system benefits to many long-neglected areas. The first Casas were established in 1995. Since that time they have gradually expanded their caseloads. In FY 03, these Casas overall facilitated resolution of more than 532,000 cases, and by the end of FY03, they had handled a total of nearly two million cases. USAID is also supporting activities to strengthen the Office of Public Defense to ensure a fair and timely defense for citizens.

A total of 28 oral trial courtrooms had been established with USAID funds as of September 30, 2003, and more than 3,421 judges, lawyers and judicial workers trained on oral courtroom procedures. These 28 courtrooms are critical to USAID’s efforts towards increased transparency and accountability within the Colombian legal system. Mixed inquisitorial/ accusatorial trials have begun in most of these courtrooms where officials apply concepts they have learned, including the presentation of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. Support has also been provided to law schools in Colombia to adapt curricula to the new oral accusatorial system, including the establishment of three mock trial courtrooms in three universities.

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

During FY 04, USAID plans to continue support for the Justice sector and meet or exceed the following targets:

1. Establishment of five additional Casas de Justicia for

a cumulative total of 38;

2. Establishment of five additional oral trial courtrooms (designed for the adversarial system) for a cumulative total of 33 courtrooms.

3. The workload of the Casas de Justicia will increase bringing the total number of cases handled to at least 2,500,000 by the end of FY 04.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

Number of Justice Centers established: Our goal was to establish 34 Justice Centers, 33 were established.

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

The number of Justice Houses was one under the FY 03 goal, however the number of cases handled by the 33 Justice Centers that have been established surpassed the overall targets. An additional five Justice Centers are planned for 2004.

Support to Peace Initiatives

(A) Summary of Activities

USAID/Colombia’s Peace Initiatives Program supports President Uribe’s Office of the High Commissioner for Peace (HCP) by strengthening its capacity to conduct peace negotiations with the AUC, and improve prospects for future talks with the FARC and ELN guerrillas. USAID/Colombia has provided support for peace meetings and commissions, to hire senior negotiators, verification of accords, and holding meetings with civil society to widen support for peace initiatives.

During FY 03, working with the HCP and the Ministry of Interior and Justice, the USAID Mission provided financial and technical support for the establishment of two new “Co-Existence Centers” in small, conflict-affected municipalities that provide on-site administrative and legal assistance, educational opportunities for children, youth and adults, and a neutral space for community meetings, dialogue and events around the theme of peace and co-existence.

The Peace Initiatives program also provides grants to state and private organizations to support innovative local peace initiatives to promote conflict management and mitigation, and co-existence. In FY 2003, USAID provided

$1.3 million in grants to 20 private and public sector Colombian organizations. To date, activities have been carried out in 150 municipalities in 24 departments, benefiting 240,000 individuals.

Many of the projects are located in remote areas of the country with little state presence, and include local activities involving youth groups and democratic values, promotion of economic opportunities for communities particularly affected by the armed conflict (e.g., indigenous population, Afro-Colombians, women, children), attention to victims of the conflict including those associated with land mines, and generally promoting co-existence and conflict management.

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

The principal indicators of success for the Peace Initiatives program and estimated targets for FY 2004 are as follows:

1. Support delivered to the Office of the High Commissioner for Peace in the following areas:

· Logistical and other support for the negotiations

· Policy and operational planning for the demobilization and reincorporation (DR) process

· Implementation of a DR verification, monitoring and evaluation system

· Technical assistance on legal aspects of negotiations and demobilization

· Democratic values training for demobilized and receptor communities

· Capacity building and other support for groups responsible for DR verification, including the Organization of American States mission.

2. Establishment of six more Co-existence Centers in areas affected by violence for a total of nine.

3. Support provided to the HCP to establish their community “Self Determination” program, which promotes cooperation, coordination and confidence-building between citizens and State institutions at the municipal level, and strengthens community efforts to mobilize in defense of collective and individual rights to resist the influence of illegal armed actors, as well as provide substantial information to the HCP for use at the negotiating table. During the year, 15 municipalities will be integrated into the program.

4. 200 workshops in 40 municipalities will be carried out to train 18,000 managers and promoters in conflict mitigation and coexistence, who later will become information multipliers with around 12,000 additional beneficiaries. This project is implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Culture and the HCP.

5. Support four new NGOs through the Office of the First Lady and the Office of Vice-Presidency addressing the vulnerable situation of minors due to the systematic violation of their rights due to the conflict, including recruitment by illegal armed actors.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

Number of Coexistence Centers established: Our goal was to have six Coexistence Centers, and two were established for a total of three.

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

The number of Coexistence Centers established depends on advances in negotiations with illegal armed groups; meeting annual targets depend on developments beyond the scope of the USAID program. USAID will continue to work as closely as possible to achieve established targets as conditions permit.

Transparency and Accountability


(A) Summary of Activities

USAID transparency and accountability programs also contribute to good governance and improve the Colombian Government’s effectiveness by helping to standardize accounting and internal control systems at the national and local levels.

Assistance to civil society oversight organizations aimed at improving their ability to monitor the national and local government’s use of public funds. Twenty-three citizen oversight committees were formed in FY 03 for a cumulative total of 163 oversight committees and a cumulative total of 36 municipalities improved their public services. USAID has also helped to standardize the internal control units of twenty-four GOC entities.

Equally important, USAID has continued to support the Vice President of Colombia’s efforts to establish a merit-based, transparent recruitment and provided technical assistance that included drafting and revising procedures to hire new public servants, performance evaluation, promotion and training, and the separation of career civil service for both low performance and discipline. USAID is supporting this same office to implement a comprehensive e-government program to facilitate payments through the Internet and integrate current e-procurement systems that will increase the efficiency and transparency in public procurement.

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

The following significant accomplishments will further strengthen transparency and accountability during FY 04:

1. USAID will continue to support implementation of a government-wide system of on-line procurement that will strengthen transparency and accountability.

2. An additional 40 citizen oversight committees will be formed, which will bring the cumulative number to over 200 by the end of FY 04.

3. Two additional GOC entities will adopt standardized internal control units, which will bring the cumulative number to 26 by the end of FY 04.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

n/a.

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

n/a

Human Rights

(A) Summary of Activities

USAID is working to improve the capacity of governmental institutions and civil society organizations to enhance and broaden respect for human rights in Colombia through a three-tiered approach including: prevention of human rights violations by strengthening GOC and non-governmental human rights institutions; protection of human rights workers, union leaders, journalists, community leaders and local elected officials under threat; and improvement of GOC responses to human rights threats and/or violations.

In 2001, USAID worked with the National Ombudsman’s Office to develop a human rights Early Warning System (EWS) as a means of preventing forced displacement and massacres. By the end of FY 03, the EWS had developed a network of contacts, with a national office and 20 regional offices that provide the GOC with warnings of potential human rights violations. This network issued a total of 234 alerts that generated 177 GOC responses by the end of FY 03, which prevented numerous and serious human rights violations.

During FY 03, USAID also provided “hard” (e.g., communications equipment, bulletproof vests, and vehicles) and “soft” (e.g., domestic and international relocation and economic assistance) protection assistance to 821 persons, which brought the cumulative number of persons protected to 3,145 as of September 20, 2003.

USAID has also supplied protection equipment and armoring a total of 71 offices of human rights organizations, NGOS, unions or GOC entities that were threatened with (or actually experienced) human rights abuses. An important change was introduced in FY 02 when the human rights program expanded its protection component to provide assistance to mayors, city council members, and local community leaders that are increasingly under threat, this support was continued in FY 03.

The Department of Justice has continued to assist the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office in strengthening, training and equipping the National Human Rights Unit which is tasked with the investigation and prosecution of the most serious human rights violations and other felonies which have political overtones, i.e., massacres, multiple homicides, bombings carried out by the illegal armed groups in Colombia. It has done so by forming, training and equipping 11 Satellite Units with regional responsibilities that respond immediately to human rights crimes throughout the country. The 11 satellite units up and running are in Cali, Neiva, Villavicencio, Medellin, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, and Cucuta, creating faster access to sites of major human rights abuse. The Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office and Congress have authorized the formation of four more such units. DOJ has begun the training and equipment procurement process for the new units. The four new units will be located in Neiva, Villavicencio, Cucuta and Bucaramanga. These cities currently have one unit each, with an overly large geographical responsibility that covers areas of severe conflict including Arauca, Meta and Caqueta, among others.

DOJ has provided investigative and prosecution training, crime scene and office equipment, armored vehicles, body armor and operational funds. The Human Rights Unit development program is conducted in concert with the U.S. Marshals’ judicial security program to provide effective physical security to the units. These units, particularly the satellite units are now involved in handling the most serious and sensitive human rights criminal investigations. An important component of this human rights-related assistance is the development of an extensive and sophisticated forensic capability to provide Colombian prosecutors and investigators with access to laboratory analysis in ballistics, DNA, fingerprint and document imagery. U.S. Government support for the establishment of human rights units and training on various forensics systems has substantially improved the ability of Colombian law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human rights crimes.

During FY 2003, the U.S. Southern Command continued its support in establishing and implementing Colombian military justice programs that sensitize the Colombian military on the rule of law, human rights, and international humanitarian law. In September 2003, the Colombian Military Penal Justice Corps (MPJC) celebrated its second anniversary. The MPJC’s 320 military, police and civilian lawyers, along with non-legal personnel continue to receive professional legal education and training. Courses include Military Justice, Criminal Investigation Operational Law, International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. The organization’s primary purpose is the administration of justice throughout the Colombian armed forces. Ninety Colombian MPJC officers have completed or are enrolled in a one-year Military Penal Justice specialization degree program. This corps of instructors in human rights and international humanitarian law travels to military units throughout Colombia to provide training. A School of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law and Military Justice was established at the Colombian Military University of Nueva Granada in July 2003. It serves as both a home for the MPJC as well as a central coordinator for human rights, international humanitarian law and rule of law training for the Colombian Armed Forces. To date, US Southern Command has supported specific training in these areas for over 3,362 personnel in addition to incorporating these topics in all military training provided.

United States Military Group (USMILGP) sponsored activities in support of military respect for human rights include seminars on human rights in military operations for Colombian Army, Navy and Air Force unit commanders, human rights officers, legal advisors, and operational personnel, and distribution of instructors’ manuals and CD-ROMS on human rights and international humanitarian law for trainers in the Colombian armed forces. Long distance learning courses have been established to maximize the training audience. While previously, USMILGP had sent Colombian military and Ministry of Defense personnel to the Human Rights Instructor course at the Western Hemisphere Institute of Security and Cooperation (WHINSEC), now these instructors are being trained by the Colombian Armed Forces own School of Human Rights. In 2003, a training team from the Defense Institute of Legal Studies traveled to Colombia and trained over 300 Naval Cadets and 30 Colombian Marine military and police personnel.

(B) Estimated Timetable for Activities in FY 2004

USAID support for human rights is an important part of the overall Plan Colombia assistance program and will continue in FY 04. Current implementation plans call for achievement of the following results in FY 04:

1. The human rights protection program will provide assistance to 4,000 persons that will have received protection assistance by the end of FY04.

2. An additional seven human rights, union, NGO or GOC counterpart offices will be “hardened” through receipt of protection assistance which will bring the cumulative number of “hardened” offices to 78 by the end of FY 04.

(C) Delays in Meeting Timetables Established in the April 2003 Report

N/a

(D) Assessment of Steps to be Taken to Correct Delays

n/a

Support to Afro-Colombians and Other Marginalized Groups

USAID’s policy towards Afro-Colombian and indigenous populations is one of inclusion, working with these vulnerable and marginalized groups within the context of USAID’s overall program of support for Plan Colombia. During the last two years we have seen steady increases in the number of Afro-Colombian groups receiving USAID support and in the number of projects implemented with and through Afro-Colombian organizations.

In alternative development, USAID has helped approximately 18,000 Afro-Colombians turn away from coca cultivation and begin to produce over 700 hectares of licit crops. Combined with the GOC and the UN, USAID is assisting to establish a forestry program in pre-dominantly Afro-Colombian areas that will create over 20,000 hectares of coca-free forest, and USAID is promoting a sustainable commercial forestry project that will benefit over 500 Afro-Colombians.

In local governance, USAID has completed nearly 34 social infrastructure projects, benefiting over 16,812 Afro-Colombians; provided training and technical assistance to departments with a high Afro-Colombian presence; and assisted municipalities to strengthen city councils and developed local policies for crime and violence prevention.

In human rights, USAID has provided support for two Afro-Colombian conferences aimed at bringing together the major Afro-Colombian organizations and formulating a plan for their development agenda; supported nine organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of Afro-Colombian interests; analyzed the Colombian government’s compliance with Law 70 that guarantees Afro-Colombian rights; and created networks of Afro-Colombian Women’s organizations.

In the area of peace initiatives, USAID has worked to strengthen socio-economic cohesion through food security programs and peaceful conflict resolution initiatives in communities with a significant Afro-Colombian population, reaching more than 1,000 families and also supplied jobs skill training for 1,000 Afro-Colombian and indigenous women.

In the area of IDPs, USAID has worked with displaced Afro-Colombian women’s organizations, income generation and housing projects, an integrated center for families, and several resettlement projects. Through a local NGO, USAID has been able to support health projects in the departments of Bolivar, Choco, Narino, Valle del Cauca, and Cauca that benefit the Afro-Colombian IDP population in these regions. Through a support program for child ex-combatants, USAID has implemented programs specifically targeting Afro-Colombian youth involved in the armed conflict and special prevention activities focusing on Afro-Colombian youth at high-risk for recruitment by armed groups. To date, USAID assistance to displaced persons in Colombia has reached over 300,000 Afro-Colombians.

USAID plans to continue support for Afro-Colombian and other marginalized groups in FY04.



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