4010 COHA Report, The Ill-Advised US Certification of Colombia on Human Rights

The Ill-Advised US Certification of Colombia on

Human Rights

– Despite Colombia’s Bleak Human Rights Performance, the Country Is Certified with a Smile
– Meanwhile, Venezuelan-Colombian Relations Further Deteriorate

For another consecutive year in its controversial certification process, the State Department has found that the Colombian government and its armed forces are meeting statutory criteria related to enforcement of human rights standards. This certification was awarded by Washington last month, when it claimed that 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.” This statement was challenged by many independent bodies, including COHA, as being devoid of legitimacy.

The certification award irked human rights defenders and critics of the Uribe administration in Washington and Bogotá alike because it failed to correspond to reality. The dispute in Washington’s findings arises, in part from the current situation in Colombia, where the government is entering one of the most difficult periods since President Uribe entered office. Scandals over the involvement of the Armed Forces in brutal human rights abuses and a variety of outrages by pro-Uribe paramilitary groups continue to rock the country. Considering the woeful status of human rights observance in Colombia, and the initiation of a slide in Uribe’s popularity, it is easy to misinterpret the certification as an accurate representation of the current status of the country rights adherence; rather, it is a mark of Washington’s geopolitical interest in the region.

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