CIA Backed Forces In Afghanistan Implicated In War Crimes

The more things change, the more things basically stay the same. This time, Human Rights Watch has just publishing findings from an independent investigation linking CIA backed forces in Afghanistan to assassination, targeted disappearances, an increase in civilian casualties resulting from continued drone strikes and much more – some even amounting to War Crimes. Entitled “They’ve Shot Many Like This’: Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces,” the 53 page report documents the aforementioned crimes carried out by CIA backed forces inside Afghanistan across 2017 to 2019, specifically under Donald Trumps command.

In a statement published on their website this morning representatives from Human Rights Watch said “United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-backed Afghan forces have committed summary executions and other grave abuses without accountability.” Perhaps most worrisome of the problems however is the continued use of drone strikes on or near civilian populations, a problem that Barack Obama once also encountered in the region. HRW goes on the explain how “these strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities for allegedly treating insurgent fighters. Civilian casualties from these raids and air operations have dramatically increased in the last two years.” I could write more, or you could just consume all the resources for yourself – enjoy!

Executive Summary: https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/10/31/theyve-shot-many/abusive-night-raids-cia-backed-afghan-strike-forces
Download Full Report: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/afghanistan1019_web.pdf

Browse Full Report:

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Interestingly enough, the same day the report was first released, the CIA issued a response to the report, essentially accusing Human Rights Watch of over simplifying the situation as the US continues its Was against the Taliban. You can read the CIA’s full 5 page response below…

Download CIA Doc: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/afghanistan1019_appendices.pdf

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Report: Anogola’s Historic Drought Threatens The Lives of Tens of Thousands

A new report from Amnesty International cautions the international public and Government of Angola that the lives of tens of thousands of its citizens are currently at risk of death/famine if nothing is done to help them in the immediate future. The drought is itself is said to have been an ongoing situation dating back to October 2018, and the crisis has been making international headlines dating back to May 2019 as the situation continued to worsen. Now, today, Amnesty International is warning that “tens of thousands of pastoral farmers who have been driven off their land to make way for commercial cattle ranches have been exposed to a greater risk of hunger and starvation as drought grips southern Angola.

As was explained by Amnesty International in more detail, “since the end of the civil war in 2002, the authorities have been diverting communal grazing land of Tunda dos Gambos and Vale de Chimbolela for commercial farming.” As a result, “the rise of commercial cattle ranches on this traditional grazing land has eroded economic, social, and cultural resilience, most notably food security, among the Vanyaneka and Ovaherero people in the Gambos, Angola.” This is also important to understand because it is the people/farmers whom have been locked out for federal/commercial land which have been the hardest hit by this drought, because the Government as offered them no money, resources or irrigation like they have to commercial farmers. As such, these are the people most likely to die the longer the drought exists.

Download Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR1210202019ENGLISH.pdf

Browse Report (64 Pages):

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Saudi Cargo Ship Departs from European Ports Loaded w/ Weapons & Munitions Destined for Yemen

(AI) – Reacting to the onward voyage of the Saudi Arabian state shipping company’s vessel, the Bahri Yanbu, from the Spanish port of Santander this afternoon, Ara Marcen Naval, Deputy Director for Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

Laden with arms that will likely be used in the war in Yemen, the Bahri Yanbu has been bouncing off European ports like a pinball. After loading up with Belgian munitions in Antwerp, it has visited or attempted to visit ports in the UK, France and now Spain, and is due to dock at the Italian port of Genoa later this week. This is a serious test of EU countries’ resolve to uphold their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty and EU Common Position on Arms Exports. Several states have failed this test in the space of just a few days.

No EU state should be making the deadly decision to authorize the transfer or transit of arms to a conflict where there is a clear risk they will be used in war crimes and other serious violations of international law.

The Bahri Yanbu’s voyage reminds us that states prefer to allow the lucrative global arms trade to continue to operate behind a veil of secrecy. But this veil is not impenetrable, and Amnesty International and its partners will continue to closely monitor developments and denounce states for flouting their international legal obligations.

Background

In Yemen, the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led Coalition has used arms imports to contribute to thousands of civilian deaths and injuries, including as a result of attacks that violated international humanitarian law. This has exacerbated the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where 2.2 million people have been displaced and 22 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Read More – The War In Yemen, The Media’s Forgotten War: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/09/yemen-the-forgotten-war/

According to the EU’s reporting on arms exports, EU member states issued at least 607 licences worth over 15.8 billion euros to Saudi Arabia in 2016. The main European exporters of conventional arms to Saudi Arabia include the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Bulgaria. Between 2013 and 2018, Saudi Arabia accounted for nearly half of the UK’s and a third of Belgium’s arms exports. Other countries – including Germany, the Netherlands and Norway – have started to restrict weapons sales to the Saudi and UAE-led coalition.

According to a published export schedule for Saudi Arabian state-owned shipping vessels, the Bahri Yanbu set sail from Corpus Christi, USA on 2 April 2019, destined for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. It then called at several other US ports and one Canadian port before crossing the Atlantic and stopping in Germany, Belgium and the UK in early May.

On 3 May, it was reportedly loaded with six containers of Belgian-manufactured munitions at Antwerp, before continuing on to France. It was due to dock at the French port of Le Havre to receive additional arms on 8 May, but following legal action by French NGOs and increased public scrutiny, it continued its voyage without stopping in France, and made an unscheduled stop at Santander in northern Spain on 12-13 May. Its next scheduled port of call is in Genoa, Italy, now expected on or after 18 May.

Read More – The Yemen Papers, Classified Documents from French MoD Published Online: https://roguemedia.co/?s=yemen+papers&x=13&y=12

Amnesty International activists in Belgium, France, Spain and Italy have been monitoring the Bahri Yanbu’s voyage around Europe. The activists have joined protests and co-authored a letter to the Spanish authorities to call on them not to authorize its transit through Spanish waters. The organization will highlight the apparent ATT and EU Common Position violations at a 17 May meeting of the European Council’s Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports.

Saudi Weapons Export Schedule – April to May 2019:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on May 15th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Investigative Report: How Mass Surveillance Works Inside China

(HRW) – Chinese authorities are using a mobile app to carry out illegal mass surveillance and arbitrary detention of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region. The Human Rights Watch report, “China’s Algorithms of Repression’: Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App,” presents new evidence about the surveillance state in Xinjiang, where the government has subjected 13 million Turkic Muslims to heightened repression as part of its “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism.

Between January 2018 and February 2019, Human Rights Watch was able to reverse engineer the mobile app that officials use to connect to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), the Xinjiang policing program that aggregates data about people and flags those deemed potentially threatening. By examining the design of the app, which at the time was publicly available, Human Rights Watch revealed specifically the kinds of behaviors and people this mass surveillance system targets.

Download Full Report: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/china0519_web3.pdf

Our research shows, for the first time, that Xinjiang police are using illegally gathered information about people’s completely lawful behavior – and using it against them,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese government is monitoring every aspect of people’s lives in Xinjiang, picking out those it mistrusts, and subjecting them to extra scrutiny.

Human Rights Watch published screenshots from the IJOP app, in the original Chinese and translated into English. The app’s source code also reveals that the police platform targets 36 types of people for data collection. Those include people who have stopped using smart phones, those who fail to “socialize with neighbors,” and those who “collected money or materials for mosques with enthusiasm.

The IJOP platform tracks everyone in Xinjiang. It monitors people’s movements by tracing their phones, vehicles, and ID cards. It keeps track of people’s use of electricity and gas stations. Human Rights Watch found that the system and some of the region’s checkpoints work together to form a series of invisible or virtual fences. People’s freedom of movement is restricted to varying degrees depending on the level of threat authorities perceive they pose, determined by factors programmed into the system.

A former Xinjiang resident told Human Rights Watch a week after he was released from arbitrary detention: “I was entering a mall, and an orange alarm went off.” The police came and took him to a police station. “I said to them, ‘I was in a detention center and you guys released me because I was innocent.’… The police told me, ‘Just don’t go to any public places.’… I said, ‘What do I do now? Just stay home?’ He said, ‘Yes, that’s better than this, right?

The authorities have programmed the IJOP so that it treats many ordinary and lawful activities as indicators of suspicious behavior. Some of the investigations involve checking people’s phones for any one of the 51 internet tools that are considered suspicious, including WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Human Rights Watch found. The IJOP system also monitors people’s relationships, identifying as suspicious traveling with anyone on a police watch list, for example, or anyone related to someone who has recently obtained a new phone number.

Based on these broad and dubious criteria, the system generates lists of people to be evaluated by officials for detention. Official documents state individuals “who ought to be taken, should be taken,” suggesting the goal is to maximize detentions for people found to be “untrustworthy.” Those people are then interrogated without basic protections. They have no right to legal counsel, and some are tortured or otherwise mistreated, for which they have no effective redress.

The IJOP system was developed by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a major state-owned military contractor in China. The IJOP app was developed by Hebei Far East Communication System Engineering Company (HBFEC), a company that, at the time of the app’s development, was fully owned by CETC.

Under the Strike Hard Campaign, Xinjiang authorities have also collected biometrics, including DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents in the region ages 12 to 65. The authorities require residents to give voice samples when they apply for passports. All of this data is being entered into centralized, searchable government databases. While Xinjiang’s systems are particularly intrusive, their basic designs are similar to those the police are planning and implementing throughout China.

The Chinese government should immediately shut down the IJOP platform and delete all the data that it has collected from individuals in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said. Concerned foreign governments should impose targeted sanctions, such as under the US Global Magnitsky Act, including visa bans and asset freezes, against the Xinjiang Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo, and other senior officials linked to abuses in the Strike Hard Campaign. They should also impose appropriate export control mechanisms to prevent the Chinese government from obtaining technologies used to violate basic rights. United Nations member countries should push for an international fact-finding mission to assess the situation in Xinjiang and report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Full 78 Page Research Presentation:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on May 2nd 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, Teets, Videos and pdf added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

UN Investigation: The War In Yemen Has Killed 233,000 Individuals Between 2015 & 2019

Earlier this week, April 23rd, the United Nations Department of Arab States released the contents of a year long study into the effects of years of War on the peoples of Yemen. Commissioned by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies and University of Denver, researchers did their best to quantify the effects years of War have have had on the Yemeni population – both on and off the battlefield. Officially entitled the “Impact of War on Development in Yemen,” the 68 page study broke down a number of key statistics from the past leading up to today, in an effort to predict/project what the statistics might look like in the future if the War continues on as is, undeterred throughout the future.Below you can key highlights taken away from the study, along with access to the full study in its entirety.

Key Findings/Takeaways:

– By the end of 2019, fighting/combat in Yemen will have claimed about 102,000 casualties.
– About 131,000 have died from the side effects War – disease, famine, lack of water – between 2015 & 2019.
– The combined death toll, from fighting and disease, is 233,000 – or 0.8% of Yemen’s combined population.
1 child dies from the effects of War and its side effects every 11 minutes and 54 seconds.
– If fighting continues undeterred, by 2030 the death toll would reach 1.8 million, the economy would have lost $657 billion, 84% of Yemenis would be malnourished and 71% would live in extreme poverty.

Download Full Study: http://www.arabstates.undp.org/content/dam/rbas/doc/Crisis%20prevention/FINAL%20UNDP-Y_FullReport_041919_print-compressed.pdf

Browse Study:

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UN Investigation: USA Is Now Responsible for More Civilian Deaths Inside Afghanistan Annually Than Taliban

Yesterday, April 24th 2019, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan released their first quarter report of 2019. Officially entitled “The Quarterly Report of Civilians In Armed Conflict,” unfortunately, the 6 page report uncovers many troubling statistics in regards to the countries ongoing conflict. For example, in 2019 Afghanistan is already on pace to have the highest number of civilian casualties than any year in history – after setting new all time records for civilian casualties 2 of the last 3 years beforehand. In addition to this, under Commander In Chief Donald Trump, the United Nations has discovered that US and US backed forces inside Afghanistan are now responsible for more civilian casualties annually than any other party or group involved in the conflict – including the Taliban.

Full Investigation – UN’s 2019 First Quarter Report from Afghanistan: https://unama.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/unama_protection_of_civilians_in_armed_conflict_-_first_quarter_report_2019_english.pdf

While I invite you to read the report in its entirety, it is important to draw attention as to why the United Nations tied the Taliban in with this years report. For those of you whom might be unaware, this is because, as December of 2018, the ruling Government of Afghanistan has formerly invited Taliban leaders to the negotiating table to begin drafting a new Constitution for the country – an agreement which would also serve as a de facto peace agreement between the two Waring factions. This simultaneously comes as both the Taliban and ruling Government of Afghanistan, first put in place by the United States, are now both calling for an end to US presence/involvement in the country – 18 years after the War first began. You can learn more about these developments via the resources provided below.

Learn More – Afghan Government Invites Taliban To Negotiating Table: https://roguemedia.co/2018/12/08/op-ed-dropping-the-metaphorical-mother-of-all-bombs-blowing-up-the-uss-historical-war-strategy-for-afghanistan/

Browse UN Report:

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Declassified Documents from CIA Reveal US Political Interference South America Throughout The Cold War

So, this article is going to be a little bit difficult to piece together and involves a lot of information you were never technically supposed to see, but now can. This is because, for those of you whom might not have been aware, the US intelligence community just finished wrapping up a declassified document dump 3 years in the making last Friday – April 12th 2019. Officially entitled the “Argentina Declassification Project” and originally ordered by Barack Obama in 2016, the now browse-able archive is home to literally tens of thousands of declassified documents centering around Argentina and Argentinian history – including up on through the end of WW2 and into the Cold War.

However, what makes these documents particularly unique, and just as equally controversial, are direct references to operations carried out by the US Central Intelligence Agency, US military and our allies abroad – including France and England. What I mean to say is that the documents almost accidentally reveal/outline US War strategy throughout the course of the Cold War, and chronicle top-secret CIA missions that no one has ever heard or seen of before – because these documents have remained classified for the better part of the last 5 decades! In a weird way, the documents released last week almost throw the US and some of our closest allies completely under the bus – something I don’t believe was Obama’s original intention – or maybe perhaps it was? 🤔

Browse Full Archive – Argentina Declassification Project: https://www.intel.gov/argentina-declassification-project/records

Interestingly enough, in 2016 President Obama initially referred to the directive to release these documents as a “humanitiarian gesture” extended towards Argentina, hoping to expose and/or shine light on human rights violations which have crippled the country/region throughout the past. Taking a look at these documents first hand here today, in retrospect, while Obama wasn’t necessarily wrong in his inclinations, he may have wildly under-estimated what would be revealed or how bad it would make the US and CIA look. But then again, maybe Obama did know all along, and this is exactly why he ordered the release – who knows, really?

I bring this up because what appears to be catching the eyes/attention of some of my fellow “comrades” are details surrounding something referred to as”Operation Condor” – a delf describeda cooperative effort by the intelligence/security services of several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion,” spearheaded by US intelligence with help from our counterparts in “France, United Kingdom, Western Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Learn More – Operation Condor from CIA Reading Room: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/%22Operation%20Condor%22

As you can read for yourself within the newly declassified document below, and as was explained in more detail by Chilean reporter Whitney Webb, “Operation Condor was a plan by the CIA that targeted leftists, suspected leftists and their “sympathizers” and resulted in the forced disappearances, torture and brutal murders of an estimated 60,000 people, as well as the political imprisonment of around half a million people. Around half of the estimated murders occurred in Argentina.” However, what caught my attention was the CIA’s use of the term “Psychological Warfare” to describe what they were attempting to do in South America as a means of subverting their enemies. This is because I have previously covered the US Governments use of psychological warfare as a means of combating Russia under Donald Trump.

Browse 4 Page Document – Operation Condor Strategy 08/22/1978:

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Regardless, Web then goes on to explain how “several other documents in the recent release discuss a decision made by Condor member countries in May 1976 to train and send a military unit to “conduct physical attacks” against left-wing Latin American exiles and their supporters in France, in what was codenamed “Teseo.” Adding that “several Condor countries, aside from Brazil and Bolivia, were eager to participate and the training of the “Teseo” unit did occur, though the CIA was apparently unaware whether the unit was actually sent to France.” However, further research by Rogue Media Labs confirms the movements of these very operations in and around Europe – as you can see from the FOIA CIA reading room documents provided below, a resource I do not believe Web had access to at the time.

Learn More – Operation Teseo from CIA Archives: https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/search/site/%22Teseo%22

Browse 10 Page Release of Teseo Agreement To Enter Europe:

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Unfortunately, I really wish it ended there, but it does not. As Webb goes on to explain, sponsored by the US Military, Central Intelligence Agency and their counterparts in Europe, Operation Condor ultimately went on to overthrow and installed new Governments in 6 South American countries throughout the course of the 1970’s – in Chile, Brasil, Uraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Argentina, forever altering history.

Snipet from MintPress News:

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Read Whitney Webb’s Full Article Here: https://www.mintpressnews.com/declassified-cia-docs-uk-france-and-west-germany-wanted-to-bring-operation-condor-to-europe/257541/

A separate report published by The Guardian on April 15th 2019 called Operation Condora secret programme in which the dictatorships of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador conspired to kidnap and assassinate members of leftwing guerrilla groups in each other’s territories” – implying that all those killed or imprisoned were all terrorists, militant members or enemies of the state. However, as The Guardian also points out, “many — and one could convincingly argue the majority — of those killed, tortured and imprisoned were not members of guerilla groups, as there are thousands of documented cases of college students, musicians, writers, journalists, priests and nuns, pregnant women, teachers, indigenous leaders, union members and others who were subject to the extreme prejudice of Operation Condor despite not being combatants in any capacity.

According some reports, as many as 60,000 people were killed and/or assassinated as a result of these very operations – nearly half of which came from Argentina alone. Once again, as was previously stated in the lead to this article, President Obama released these documents as a favor to Argentina to help them understand their past and the human rights violations which have occurred their throughout their checkered past – though it is anyone guess how aware Obama was at the time of just how great/large of a role the United States actually played in those same human rights violations. I guess that is what you call “irony.

Regardless, thanks to multiple document dumps released by the CIA and US Intelligence community over the course last two years, together with some good ole fashion research, even though we already kind of knew these sorts of things happen, it’s just a little weird/eerie to see literal proof of it all – showcasing the very documents/treaties/back-room agreements we drafted and signed to pull it all off. Imagine if this information was made public at the time? How different would our world look today? Now that they are all out in the open for the world to see, how pissed off do you think people will be? How much will these sorts of documents influence future US relations? Your guess is as good as mine.

Lastly, when I look around at the world today, I see the US active in “regime change” in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and North Korea throughout the course of the 21st century. Moreover, we have carried out these operations/War efforts in the name of “terrorism” – quite literally fighting a “War On Terror.” Looking back at CIA documents from the 1970’s and seeing the same terminology of “terrorism” and “regime change” frightens me, quite frankly, and makes me feel a whole lot less proud to be an American as I sit here today. I just cant help but wonder, when will the US’s luck run out? The proof is on the table, we have meddled in the affairs of and seemingly overthrown half the worlds leaders just to suit our own political interests. Surely it is only a matter of time before all our “interference” and “meddling” in other countries political affairs will come back to haunt us – right Russia?

US Senate Releases Open Letter Urging US States Department To Talk Egyptian Military Tyrant/Dictator al-Sisi Down from Passing New Constitution

(AI) – Egypt’s authorities must end their crackdown against critics who oppose amendments to the Egyptian constitution, proposed by members of parliament, that will strengthen impunity for human rights violations, said Amnesty International. Many of those who have criticized the changes have been arrested or publicly vilified in the media. The organization is today publishing an analysis of the constitutional amendments which are currently being discussed by the Egyptian parliament. If passed, these measures will undermine the independence of the judiciary, expand military trials for civilians and could allow President Abdel Fattah to stay in power until 2034.

Download Full Analysis Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1201472019ENGLISH.pdf

If passed, these constitutional amendments would worsen the devastating human rights crisis Egyptians are already facing. They would grant President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and security forces free rein to further abuse their powers and suppress peaceful dissent for years to come,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. “The Egyptian parliament has a responsibility towards Egyptians to preserve what remains of the country’s judicial independence and adherence to international law and reject the proposed amendments.

A parliamentary vote on the amendments is due in the coming weeks and if passed – the new draft constitution will be put to a public referendum. “Since President al-Sisi came to power human rights in Egypt have catastrophically deteriorated. Egypt’s international allies must not stand by silently as the Egyptian authorities push through these amendments while bullying anyone who dares to criticize the changes into silence. In particular, the US authorities should use President al-Sisi’s visit to Washington DC this week to publicly condemn the proposed changes.” President al-Sisi is due to meet with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington DC on 9 April.

In its analysis Amnesty International expresses concern that the amendments would strengthen the influence of the Egyptian military over government, remove the requirement for judicial review of draft legislation, as well as expanding notoriously unfair military trials for civilians and granting the President sweeping powers to manage judicial affairs and appoint senior judges.

Other amendments that have drawn criticism from opponents are the plans to extend the presidential term to six years and introduce a provision allowing President al-Sisi to run for two further presidential terms.

Crackdown targeting critics

The amendments have attracted considerable criticism including from a number of public figures, human rights organizations, political parties and the State Council Judges Club. The authorities have responded by intensifying their crackdown on freedom of expression, targeting people who have voiced opposition to the amendments with arbitrary arrest and detention, defamation and even cyber-attacks.

More than 57 people have been arrested so far in 2019, with Egyptian NGOs citing higher figures, for peacefully expressing their opinions or merely being perceived to do so – at least four of them for expressing their opposition to the constitutional amendments on social media. The arrests have followed a pattern repeatedly documented by Amnesty International whereby the victims are arrested without warrants in the early hours of the morning, before being forcibly disappeared for several days. They later reappear before a state security prosecutor who orders their detention pending investigation on charges of “membership in terrorist groups” and “disseminating false information.

Several public figures – including some members of parliament –  who have expressed their opposition to the amendments have been widely criticized in public and private media and been subjected to smear campaigns. Some opponents have faced homophobic slurs, as well as calls, including from fellow members of parliament, for their prosecution for “treason” and for their Egyptian nationality to be revoked.

Amnesty International has also documented a wave of phishing attacks, that likely originated from government backed bodies, targeting independent media organizations and human rights defenders who reported  on the authorities, including the role of the General Intelligence Service, in pushing for the constitutional amendments.

Translated Nile River Phishing Report: https://citizenlab.ca/2017/02/nilephish-report/

Last week, on 28 March, a court prevented activists from the Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition movement, from holding a protest against the constitutional amendments in front of parliament. Egypt’s Minister of Interior filed a request asking the court not to grant permission for the protest on the basis that it could “threaten public peace and security.” The court decision cited concerns that “anti-state elements may infiltrate the protest and assault the protestors, in order to frame security forces as assaulting protestors. The intimidation and harassment of people who peacefully express their opinions, including those critical of the constitutional amendments, has to end now,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

Instead of stepping up this vicious crackdown against peaceful critics, Egypt’s authorities should scrap these amendments and ensure that any proposed future changes do not violate the country’s human rights obligations under international law.

Browse Full Report:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on April 8th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits, Tweets, reports and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Egyptian Government Implicated In Massive Phishing Campaign Targeting Journalists, Political Activists & NGO’s Alike

(AI) – A new Amnesty International investigation has found a wave of digital attacks that likely originated from government-backed bodies starting from early January 2019 and involving multiple attempts to gain access to the email accounts of several prominent Egyptian human rights defenders, media and civil society organizations’ staff. The attacks appear to be part of a wider strategy, occurring amid an unprecedented crackdown on the same groups in what have turned Egypt into an “open-air” prison for critics. Because of the identities of the targets we have identified, the timing of these attacks, their apparent coordination and the notifications of state-sponsored attacks sent from Google, we conclude that these attacks were most likely carried out by, or on behalf of, the Egyptian authorities.

In recent years, the Egyptian authorities have been harassing civil society and undermining freedom of association and expression through an ongoing criminal investigation into NGOs and a repressive NGO law. The authorities have been investigating dozens of human rights defenders and NGO staff for “receiving foreign funding” Many of them could face prison if convicted. The investigative judges have also ordered a travel ban against at least 31 NGO staff, and asset freezes of 10 individuals and seven organizations. Meanwhile, the authorities have also closed El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and continue to detain human rights defenders Ezzat Ghoniemand Hisham Gaafar, directors of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms and Mada for media studies, respectively.

The list of individuals and organizations targeted in this campaign of phishing attacks has significant overlaps with those targeted in an older phishing attack wave, known as Nile Phish, disclosed in 2017 by the Citizen Lab and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

Translated English Version: https://citizenlab.ca/2017/02/nilephish-report/

Full Nile Phish Report: 

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Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these phishing attacks represent yet another attempt by the authorities to stifle Egyptian civil society and calls on the Egyptian authorities to end these attacks on human rights defenders, and the crackdown on civil society, including by dropping the foreign funding case and repealing the NGO law.

A new year and a new wave of attacks

Since January 2019 several human rights defenders and civil society organizations from Egypt started forwarding dozens of suspicious emails to Amnesty International. Through the course of our investigation we discovered that these emails were attempts to access the email accounts of their targets through a particularly insidious form of phishing known as “OAuth Phishing” (which we explain in detail below). We estimate the total number of targeted individuals to be in the order of several hundreds.

These coincided with a number of important events that took place in the country. In the run-up to the eighth anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January uprising, which ended with the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years in power, we recorded 11 phishing attacks against NGOs and media collectives. We saw another burst of attacks during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on 28 and 29 January. The attacks peaked on 29 January, the day that President Macron met with human rights defenders from four prominent Egyptian NGOs. Later, in the first week of February, several media organizations were targeted as part of this campaign of digital attacks; they were reporting on the process of amending the Egyptian Constitution that the parliament had just officially started.

The attacks all bear the same hallmarks and appear to be part of a coordinated campaign to spy on, harass and intimidate their targets. While definitive attribution is difficult, the selective targeting of human rights defenders from Egypt, particularly in concomitant with specific political events, suggests this current wave of digital attacks is politically, rather than financially, motivated.

Additionally, we learned that multiple targets of this campaign received an official warning from Google alerting that “government-backed attackers are trying to steal your password.

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Google warning to one of the targets – 19 January 2019

These elements reinforce the suspicion that a state-sponsored group might be behind this campaign, further contributing to the chilling effect on Egyptian civil society and silencing those who voice criticism of the government.

What an OAuth phishing attack looks like: Step by step

Traditional phishing attacks attempt to deceive the targets into providing their passwords by creating a fake clone of, for example, Google’s or Facebook’s login page. If the target is successfully lured into entering their password, the attacker then “steals” their credentials and can reuse these to access their email account. Typically, this kind of phishing attack can be prevented through the use of two-step verification procedures such as those provided by most mainstream platforms these days, or by authenticator apps, or even better, security keys.

However, in this phishing campaign we have documented in Egypt, the attackers instead leverage a simple but less known technique generally called “OAuth Phishing.” Rather than cloning a legitimate login prompt that aims to trick targets into entering their password on a dubious-looking site, OAuth Phishing abuses a legitimate feature of many online service providers, including Google, that allows third-party applications to gain direct access to an account. For example, a legitimate external calendar application might request access to a user’s email account in order to automatically identify and add upcoming events or flight reservations.

With OAuth Phishing, attackers craft malicious third-party applications that are disguised not to raise suspicion with the victims. (More information on this functionality is available on Google Support in English or Arabic). Here we provide a step by step look at the ways in which these attacks work, and we follow on below with some concrete ways that people can better protect themselves from these kinds of attacks.

Step 1

We identified a few variants of the phishing emails received by the human rights defenders who shared these with Amnesty International. In the most common case pictured below, the email imitates a security warning from Google and solicits the target to apply a “Secure Email” security update to their Google account.

Screen Shot Example of Phishing Email Used In Attack:

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Step 2

Clicking the “Update my security now” button directs to a page that initiates the OAuth authorization process of the malicious third-party application named by the attackers as “Secure Mail.

Step 3

At this point the target is requested to log into Google or choose an existing logged in account.

Screenshot of Google’s login prompt requesting authorization to the malicious app:

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Step 4

Now the target is asked to explicitly authorize the malicious “Secure Email” third-party application to be granted access to their email account. While this authorization prompt does contain a warning from Google, it may be overlooked as the user has been directed from what appeared to be a legitimate email from Google.

Screenshot of confirmation to authorize the malicious app on victim’s account:

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Step 5

Once the “Allow” button is clicked, the malicious “Secure Email” application is granted access to the target’s email account. The attackers are immediately able to read the email’s content, and the victims are directed to the real Google account settings page, which further reduces any suspicion on the part of the target that they have been victim of a fraudulent attack.

In addition to Google, we observed that the same attackers make use of similar tactics against Yahoo, Outlook and Hotmail users.

Defending Against OAuth Phishing

OAuth Phishing can be tricky to identify. Often, security education for individuals at risk does not include mentions of this particular technique. People are usually trained to respond to phishing by looking for suspicious domains in the browser’s address bar and by enabling two-factor verification. While those are very useful and important safety practices to adopt, they would not help with OAuth Phishing because victims are in fact authenticating directly through the legitimate site.

If you are an activist, human rights defender, journalist, or anyone else concerned about being targeted by these kinds of attacks, it is important to be alert whenever you are requested to authorize a third-party application on your accounts.

Occasionally it is a good exercise to review your account’s security settings and check for authorized external applications. In the case of this campaign, the malicious Secure Email application will appear authorized as pictured below.

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Screenshot of the malicious third-party applications used by the attackers as it appears in the Google account settings page

You might also want to consider revoking access to any other authorized application that you do not recognize or that you might have stopped using.

Google also offers an Advanced Protection Program that in addition to enforcing the authentication with a security key, disables third-party applications on your account. Beware that enabling this configuration introduces some limitations, so make sure it fits your particular requirements before enrolling.

Here you can find instructions on how to check for authorized third-party applications on your Yahoo account instead.

Get in touch

If you received any suspicious email like those we described in this report, or other forms of suspected targeted attack, you can contact us at share@amnesty.tech.

Appendix

Indicators of Compromise and attacks Infrastructure available here.

Following are screenshots of other phishing emails used in this same campaign:

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on March 5th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

#OpVenezuela: International Hackers Team Up As The Onslaught Against Maduro’s Government Continues Into The Weekend

Over the course of the last 24 hours or so different hackers and hacking groups from all around the world appear to have come together in a coordinated effort to launch a massive round of cyber attacks against the Venezuelan Government. The attacks themselves are being carried out under the banner of “Operation Venezuela” (#OpVenezuela), an international hacking campaign largely attributed to the Anonymous Hacker Collective, originally launched in retaliation for Venezuelan President Maduro’s abysmal human rights record and brutal treatment of students and protesters alike throughout the recent past.

Ergo

Starting on the night of March 1st 2019, “Ergo” of the Brasilian based hacking group known as “Pryzraky” began launching a series of DDoS attacks against the Bolivarian Army of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities, attached to the Ministry of Popular Power for University Education, Science and Technology. The attacks themselves were carried out using Ergo‘s very own custom made botnet code-named “Poseidon,” which is quickly becoming infamous for taking down various website worldwide ever since first being introduced to the public just a few weeks ago.

In a message attached to the attack, Ergo left behind a message for the Bolivarian Army reading “F*ck You! You failed with this nation, we are on the population side. Pryzraky is here to help Venezuelans.
Site’s #TangoDown’d:

Ejército Bolivariano de la República Bolivariana: hxxp://ejercito.mil.ve/
Agencia Bolivariana para Actividades Espaciales: hxxp://abae.gob.ve/

Al1ne3737

Al1ne3737” on the other hand, another member of Pryzraky, managed to hack the websites of 3 South American television stations and networks, dumping the contents of their databases and/or vulnerabilities online. For example, through the leaked information provided below you can find the login credentials of 8 administrators belonging to TV NaGaragem, the names, user names, email addresses, telephone numbers and passwords of 255 registered users of TV Caiçara, as well as the SQL Injection vulnerabilities effecting the website of Sky TV.

Folha de Alphaville: hxxp://sk.tv.br/
NaGaragemTV: hxxp://nagaragem.tv.br/
TV Caicara – Audiovisual Brasileiro Independente: hxxp://tvcaicara.tv.br/

Raw Data Leak: https://pastebin.com/raw/WZqEvHC0
Data Download 54.15 KB): https://anonfile.com/Y4u8A7v1b4/hackeddates_txt

PopTart

Another member of Pryzraky, “PopTart” has claimed responsibility for a DDoS attack effecting the Ministry of People’s Power of the Office of the President – presumably via Layer 7 DDos Attack, their primary attack style of choice. While the attack was originally launched close to 24 hours ago at the time of the release of this article, March 3rd 2019, though the site is back online, it’s still functioning abnormally slow.

Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia: hxxp://presidencia.gob.ve/

Prince

Prince” on the other hand is an independent hacker working under the general umbrella of Anonymous, claiming an attack on the website of Venezuela’s Book of Opportunities for Studies – which was still down at the time of this article. This is also the second such hack/leak effecting this website over the course of the last week alone, adding to an entirely separate data leak released to the public on February 28th 2019.

Libro de Oportunidades de Estudios: hxxp://loeu.opsu.gob.ve/

Original Leak: https://ghostbin.com/paste/2z6j4
Leak Backup: https://pastebin.com/raw/TEtFCQ3K

https://twitter.com/oprince_wood/status/1101614066538303495

Colombian President Duque Promotes 9 Officials Guilty of War Crimes To Lead National Military Efforts

(HRW) – 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 Nicacio 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.

The Colombian government should be investigating officers credibly linked to extrajudicial executions, not appointing them to the army’s top command positions,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “By appointing these officers, the government conveys the troubling message to the troops that engaging in abuses may not be an obstacle for career success.

Human Rights Watch reasearch has shown that patterns in false positive cases – including their systematic nature and the implausible circumstances of many of the reported combat killings – strongly suggest that commanders of units responsible for a significant number of killings knew or had reason to know about them. Under international law, commanders are not only responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity that they directly order and carry out. They must also be held criminally responsible if they knew or had reason to know that subordinates under their effective control were committing such crimes and failed to take all necessary and reasonable steps in their power to prevent or punish the act.

Summary – Evidence of Senior Army Officers’ Responsibility for False Positive Killings in Colombia: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/24/their-watch/evidence-senior-army-officers-responsibility-false-positive-killings#
Download Full 111 Page Report: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/colombia0615_4up.pdf

The newly appointed officers credibly linked to abuses are Martínez Espinel, head of the army; Jorge Enrique Navarrete Jadeth, Head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics; Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Arévalo, Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies; Adolfo León Hernández Martínez, head of the Army Transformation Command; Diego Luis Villegas Muñoz, head of the Vulcano Task Force; Edgar Alberto Rodríguez Sánchez, commander of the Aquiles Task Force; Raúl Hernando Flórez Cuervo, commander of the National Training Center; Miguel Eduardo David Bastidas, commander of the 10th brigade; and Marcos Evangelista Pinto Lizarazo, commander of the 13th brigade. All of them are army generals.

Gen. Martínez Espinel was second-in-command of the 10th brigade from October 2004 to January 2006. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 killings by 10th brigade troops in 2005.

Human Rights Watch had access to a access to a document signed by then-colonel Martínez Espinel certifying a payment of COP 1,000,000 (US$400) to an informant who provided information leading to “excellent results” in two military operations. In one of them, troops reported the “kill of a female ‘no name’ subject and a male ‘no name’ subject, apparently belonging to the Front 59 of the FARC.” Yet courts have concluded that the people killed were Hermes Enrique Carrillo Arias, an indigenous civilian, and 13-year-old Nohemí Esther Pacheco Zabata.

Official Court Docs:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/combinepdf.pdf”]

In 2011, a court convicted two soldiers and a former paramilitary member for murdering the pair. It found that troops abducted the victims from their home at dawn, murdered them, placed weapons on their bodies, and reported them as FARC guerrillas killed in combat. In 2013, an appeals court asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate “possible [criminal] conduct due to [possible] lack of control by the superiors.”

Gen. Navarrete Jadeth, the new General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics, was the second-in-command of the 8th brigade between July 2007 and August 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least 19 killings by the 8th brigade in 2008.

Human Rights Watch reviewed a document signed by Gen. Navarrete Jadeth in March 2008, certifying a 2,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$1,000) payment to an informant for information that led to the “death in combat of two terrorists.” In April 2012, a court concluded that the “terrorists” were unarmed civilians who had been recruited from a nearby city and extrajudicially executed.

Official Docs:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/3.pdf”]

Colombian courts have convicted hundreds of soldiers for their role in extrajudicial killings, the vast majority of them low-ranking. But the authorities have failed to prosecute senior army officers allegedly responsible for illegal killings. Instead, the authorities have promoted many of these officers through the ranks, allowing several to hold top positions in the armed forces.

The administration of former President Juan Manuel Santos also appointed officers linked by credible evidence to false positives to key army positions. Gen. Juan Pablo Rodríguez Barragán, under criminal investigation for such killings, headed the Colombian armed forces from 2014 through 2017.

A portion of United States military aid to Colombia is subject to human rights conditions. In 2018, the conditions included that “military personnel responsible for ordering, committing, or covering up cases of false positives are being prosecuted and appropriately punished, including removal from positions of command.”

For an analysis of the evidence against the nine military officers, please see below.

Evidence Against New Commanders

Human Rights Watch reviewed dozens of judicial rulings, testimonies, Attorney General’s Office reports, and other files relating to the army officers who were appointed in December. At least three of the nine are under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. Prosecutors are investigating numerous killings by soldiers in units under the command of the others. The following is a summary of the evidence implicating the nine officers (the information is presented following the officers’ hierarchy in the army).

Nicacio de Jesús Martínez Espinel (Head of the Army)

Gen. Martínez Espinel was second-in-command of the 10th brigade, which operates in the northeastern provinces of La Guajira and Cesar, between October 2004 and January 2006. A 2016 report by the Attorney General’s Office indicates that prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 killings by 10th brigade troops in 2005.

For example, in a ruling in June 2011, a court found that in February 2005 soldiers from the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade abducted Carrillo Arias, an indigenous civilian, and 13-year-old Pacheco Zabata from their home at dawn, murdered them, placed weapons on their bodies, and reported them as FARC guerrillas killed in combat. The court that convicted the soldiers concluded that the victims were shot in the back and that their alleged weapons had never been fired. It also found that the battalion lacked the legally required documents on the operation, including those that should have recorded the amount of ammunition used in the alleged firefight.

Human Rights Watch reviewed a document signed by then-colonel Martínez Espinel certifying a payment of COP 1,000,000 (US$400) to an informant who provided information that led to the “excellent results” in this and another operation.

Download Document Here: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/doc_2_1.pdf

Human Rights Watch identified other serious inconsistencies in several documents signed by Martínez Espinel allegedly certifying payments to informants who supposedly led 10th brigade troops to engage and kill enemies. These include the following:

  • In four separate instances, based on documents in an Attorney General’s Office file, prosecutors found that the names and ID numbers of alleged informants did not match.
  • In two documents certifying payments to informants, the dates of the alleged operations do not make sense. In one case, on May 17, 2005, Martínez Espinel authorized payment of 1,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$400) as a reward for information that, according to the same document signed by Martínez Espinel, led to an operation conducted on May 20 – three days later. In this supposed operation, a “no name” person “apparently belonging to the FARC 41st front” was reported killed.

Past Human Rights Watch research had shown that between 2002 and 2008 military officers fabricated documents to obtain economic perks for reported kills on multiple occasions, including in false-positive cases. Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm whether any of the kills for which Gen. Martínez Espinel authorized payment, aside from the murder of Carrillo Arias and Pacheco Zabata, were false positives because, in the relevant military documents reviewed, the people killed were not named. Most of the dead were reported as “no name.”

Jorge Enrique Navarrete Jadeth (Head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics)

As the head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics, Gen. Navarrete Jadeth oversees several army commands, including those in charge of personnel, logistics, and recruitment. Gen. Navarrete Jadeth was the second-in-command of the 8th brigade from July 2007 through August 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least 19 killings by the 8th brigade in 2008, the Attorney General’s Office files show.

A document signed by Gen. Navarrete Jadeth in March 2008 certified a 2,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$1,000) payment to an informant for information that led to the “death in combat of two terrorists.” In April 2012, a court concluded that the “terrorists” were unarmed civilians who had been recruited from a nearby city and extrajudicially executed.

A 2015 file indicates that prosecutors were investigating Gen. Navarrate Jadeth’s role in alleged cooperation with paramilitary groups. The investigation was triggered, the file says, by the testimony of a former paramilitary fighter, Adolfo Enrique Guevara Cantillo, who said that Gen. Navarrete Jadeth cooperated with paramilitaries. The Attorney General’s Office has not publicly indicated whether it has closed the investigation or whether it intends to charge the general.

Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Arévalo (Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies)

As the new Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies, Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo oversees several army departments, including those in charge of intelligence, counterintelligence, and military education.

Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo was commander of the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade during parts of 2005 and 2006. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into 21 killings in 2005 and 13 in 2006 by Popa soldiers, an Attorney General’s Office report shows. These include at least four cases in which Colombian courts have convicted a total of nine soldiers for their role in 10 killings.

Attorney General Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_1_1.pdf”]

In one case, on November 20, 2005, Popa soldiers murdered three civilians in San Diego, in Cesar province, reporting them as enemies killed in action. The night before, lured by bogus job offers from two men, the victims had traveled the more than 300 kilometers to San Diego from the Soledad municipality in Atlántico province. In 2014, a court convicted a lieutenant and a sergeant of the murders. A radiogram signed by then-lieutenant colonel Rodríguez Arévalo described the alleged operation, indicating that “four ‘no name’ male bandits” were killed in action as they tried to “extort a coffee producer of the region.

Copy of Radiogram:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_6_1.pdf”]

In February 2017, a soldier told prosecutors that Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo was directly involved in false positives. The following testimony regards one of many cases the soldier described (italics added):

[W]e took two people from their houses. The first one was a black man whom we took from a house that was like a store. The other house was at a diagonal to this one, to the left… then a guide took us to [another area], and there, [a] lieutenant ordered me to kill the man from the store. I executed him.

The lieutenant gave [another] soldier the order to kill the other man. We asked asked the lieutenant how we were going to [report these kills] since we didn’t have any weapons. He said,don’t worry, my uncle [will help], referring to Colonel Rodríguez Arévalo. “When we arrived at battalion headquarters, in Loma Seca, we waited [until] a helicopter arrived. Colonel Rodríguez Arévalo and [another officer] were there. They took down some black bags, I didn’t know what they contained. Then, they started organizing landmines with detonating cords, a rifle, a pistol and explosives. They put these by the [dead] people and took photos to say that there had been combat; but there was none… due to these kills, the colonel [Rodríguez Arévalo] sent his nephew to do a pilot course [apparently as a reward].

Adolfo León Hernández Martínez (Head of the Colombian Army Transformation Command)

Gen. Hernández Martínez was named head of the Colombian Army Transformation Command, a unit that advises the head of the army on policies to modernize the force. From December 2007 through June 2009, Gen. Hernández Martínez commanded the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into seven killings by the Popa battalion in 2008, an Attorney General’s Office report shows.

In one case, on January 23, 2008, Popa troops killed a 16-year-old civilian, Aldemar García Coronado, and reported him as an enemy killed in action. In 2013, a soldier and a sergeant were convicted of the crime. A radiogram signed by then-lieutenant colonel Hernández Martínez, indicates that soldiers involved in the operation “entered into combat” with “5 terrorists” of “criminal bands,” resulting in the killing of one enemy.

Diego Luis Villegas Muñoz (Head of the Vulcano Task Force)

Gen. Villegas Muñoz was appointed head of the Vulcano Task Force, a special unit that operates in the northeastern zone of Catatumbo, on the border with Venezuela. He is currently facing criminal prosecution for the killing of Omer Alcides Villada, a farmer with mental disabilities. Soldiers of the Pedro Nel Ospina battalion allegedly murdered the farmer in March 2008 and reported him as a FARC fighter killed in combat. Villegas Muñoz commanded the battalion at the time.

A document signed by Villegas Muñoz certified a payment of 1,500,000 Colombian pesos (US$800) to an informant who supposedly provided information that led to the operation in which Villada was killed. But in the alleged informant’s testimony to prosecutors, he said that he had never provided information to the army or received a payment.

Villegas Muñoz also signed two reports regarding the operation. The reports reveal several irregularities, a prosecutor said in a hearing on the case, including that the operation was in a different municipality than the military order specifies.

In December 2016, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Gen. Villegas Muñoz. But a 2017 decree linked to the justice component of the peace accord with the FARC prevented execution of the warrant, an Attorney General’s Office letter indicates. The decree allows authorities to suspend arrest warrants in cases linked to the armed conflict.

Presidential Decree:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DECRETO-706-DEL-03-DE-MAYO-DE-2017.pdf” title=”DECRETO 706 DEL 03 DE MAYO DE 2017″]

Edgar Alberto Rodríguez Sánchez (Commander of the Aquiles Task Force)

Gen. Rodríguez Sánchez was appointed commander of the Aquiles Task Force, a special unit that operates in the northern area of Bajo Cauca. From July 2006 through December 2007, he commanded the Magdalena battalion of the 9th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into at least 22 alleged killings under his command, files from the Attorney General’s Office show.

Raúl Hernando Flórez Cuervo (Commander of the National Training Center)

Gen. Flórez Cuervo was named commander of the National Training Center in Bogotá, where soldiers take specialized courses. Flórez Cuervo commanded the Domingo Caicedo infantry battalion of the sixth brigade for at least part of 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least five killings by the battalion in 2008.

Investigation:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_9_0.pdf”]

In May 2014, a court in Bogotá convicted five soldiers from Flórez Cuervo’s battalion of the January 2008 killing of Israel González, a trade unionist whom battalion soldiers reported as a guerrilla fighter killed in combat. The court concluded that the combat never took place. Instead, soldiers murdered González and placed unused weapons and a broken radio containing Army batteries on his body. Gen. Flórez Cuervo signed the “operations order” authorizing the operation.

The court asked the Attorney General’s Office to “carry out investigations regarding other people possibly responsible for these crimes who could have been involved in signing orders for the operation in which Israel González was killed.Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm whether any investigations were pursued due to this request. An official within the Attorney General’s Office told Human Rights Watch, in July 2017, that no record existed of investigations into Flórez Cuervo’s possible role in killings by the Domingo Caicedo battalion.

Conviction of Soldiers:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sentencia-Rad.-2008-80027.pdf”]

Miguel Eduardo David Bastidas (Commander of the 10th brigade)

General David Bastidas was named commander of the 10th brigade.

David Bastidas is currently facing prosecution for his role in abuses during parts of 2004 and 2005, when he was second-in-command of the Jorge Eduardo Sánchez artillery battalion of the fourth brigade. In a November 2017 indictment, a prosecutor charged him in connection with his alleged role in 32 cases of murder, 14 enforced disappearances, and 10 cases of torture. The prosecutor contended that Gen. David Bastidas failed to act on these crimes despite the implausible circumstances of the reported kills.

Copy of Indictment:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_10_0.pdf”]

Marcos Evangelista Pinto Lizarazo (Commander of the 13th brigade)

Gen. Pinto Lizarazo was appointed commander of the 13th brigade, which operates in Bogotá. From October 2006 through April 2007, Gen. Pinto Lizarazo commanded the Anastasio Girardot battalion of the 4th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 alleged killings by the battalion’s troops in 2006 and 22 in 2007, files from the Attorney General’s Office show. For example, in 2011, a court convicted four Anastasio Girardot soldiers for the murder, in December 2006, of two civilians who were falsely reported as being FARC militiamen.

Gen. Pinto Lizarazo also commanded the Magdalena battalion of the 9th brigade between December 2007 and September 2009. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 18 killings allegedly committed by the battalion’s troops in 2008, the Attorney General’s Office files show.

On January 18, 2008, Magdalena troops killed Ever Urquina Rojas, a peasant, in the San Agustin municipality and reported him as a “no name” enemy killed in action. Sargent William Andrés Vargas Capera confessed and pleaded guilty. In his plea bargain, he said he intentionally hid the victim’s ID and clothes. A document signed by Pinto Lizarazo certified a payment of 1,500,000 Colombian pesos (US$770) to an informant who supposedly provided information that led to the operation in which Urquina Rojas was killed. But prosecutors concluded that the alleged informant “did not provide any information related to Ever Urquina Rojas,” an Attorney General’s Office document shows.

Copy of Docs:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/combinepdf-1.pdf” title=”combinepdf (1)”]

In a December 11, 2015, hearing, procescutors questioned Gen. Pinto Lizarazo on his role in false positives when he was commander of the Magdalena battalion. Under Colombian criminal procedure, such hearings are one of the first steps in forming a case. The case against Gen. Pinto Lizarazo is still open, but no progress has been made since December 2015, a lawyer representing victims in the case told Human Rights Watch.

Question from Prosecutors:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_13_1_0.pdf”]


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on February 27th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & PDF Files added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Year In Review: State of Human Rights In North Africa & Middle East 2018 – 2019

(AI) – On February 26th 2019, Amnesty International released their newest investigative report entitled “Human Right In The Middle East & North Africa.” The 77 page document highlights the state of human rights, current affairs and political issues, events and debates throughout the geographic areas of the Middle East and North Africa. More specifically, Amnesty’s report highlights the state of affairs in 17 countries during the calendar year of 2018, including Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Israel and Palestine.

More Information – Review of Report: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2019/02/human-rights-in-the-middle-east-and-north-africa-2018/
Download Full 77 Page Report Here: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE0194332019ENGLISH.PDF

View Full Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/MiddleEast_NorthAfrica_Year_Review_2018.pdf”]


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 25th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs