On August 30, Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace’s Truth Recognition Chamber indicted the former commander of the army from 2002 until 2006, Mario Montoya, for his responsibility in the extrajudicial killings of 130 civilians. The crimes took place when he commanded the IV Brigade based in Medellin, Antioquia. The entity pointed out that Mr. Montoya lied about the number of persons killed, covered up the extra limitations employed by the forces under his watch and employed disturbing language that glorified this violence. Such language included ordering the units under his command to report their actions in terms of “liters,” “squirts,” “rivers,” “barrels,” or “tanker trucks” of blood.
In February 2021, the peace court found that between 2002 and 2008 6,402 civilians were extrajudicially killed by the armed forces of Colombia. This macro-criminal practice of assassinations and forced disappearances led to the illegitimate presentation of guerillas killed in combat. For years, victims’ families of the extrajudicially killed and forcibly disappeared have lived with the pain and torture of these crimes and in many cases reprisals and death threats for seeking justice for their loved ones. Over the years, high officials of the Colombian governments have diminished and denied these crimes.
As WOLA, we welcome the JEP’s indictment with the hope that this helps to guarantee non-repetition of such crimes and provides some solace to the victims’ families. During this time the U.S. provided Colombia with at least $3.8 billion in military assistance. We therefore call upon U.S. authorities to cooperate fully with any information requests from the JEP, including declassifying relevant information for the role that U.S. funding and training to the Colombian armed forces played in these murders.