Russia Exposes United States Oil Smuggling Operation In Northern Syria

Russia has accused the United States of breaking their own sanctions and smuggling oil out of Syria.

Speaking yesterday in Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova criticised the American occupation of Syrian oilfields and described the action as criminal activity. Beyond the most recent moves by Washington, Zakharova also accused the Trump regime of smuggling, stating that the activity had already been going on for months.

It’s impossible for a modern international community [not] to raise questions when a civilised state endlessly declares its adherence to certain democratic values, international legal principles in international relations, pumps oil from oil fields in northeast Syria, I remind you: it is a sovereign state – covering up their criminal activities with some pretexts for fighting ISIS. I want to remind you also: ISIS, according to the Allies[International military intervention against ISIL], was finally destroyed in March of this year. Not really, of course, everything “grows together” in the American position, bypassing their sanctions, Americans have been smuggling oil for more than 30 million dollars a month from Syria.” – Maria Zakharova –

The accusation comes hot on the heels of the Russian Ministry of Defense releasing satellite images that show American forces extracting oil and sending it for processing outside of Syria.

The above images show the Daman oil gathering station where “90 automotive vehicles, including 23 fuel trucks” were spotted. In addition, we can see 25 vehicles in the Al-Hasakah province, including 22 fuel trucks. Furthermore, 32 more fuel trucks were seen in Deir ez-Zor on September 8 and 34 fuel trucks were recorded in the Mayadin onshore area on the same day as can ben seen in the images below.

Russia has claimed that the US-controlled company Sadcab is responsible for the operation to extract the of oil and the income of the smuggling has gone straight into the personal accounts of U.S. private military companies and special forces.

Syrian oil is currently valued at $38 and barrel, making the illegal operation worth $30m a month.

Under the protection of American military servicemen and employees of American PMCs, fuel trucks from the oil fields of Eastern Syria are smuggling to other states. In the event of any attack on such a caravan, special operations forces and US military aircraft are immediately called in to protect it. For such a continuous financial flow, free from control and taxes of the American government, the leadership of the Pentagon and Langley will be ready to guard and defend oil fields in Syria from the mythical ‘hidden IS cells’ endlessly. Neither in international law, nor in American legislation itself – there is not and cannot be a single legal task for the American troops to protect and defend the hydrocarbon deposits of Syria from Syria itself and its own people.” – Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defense Ministry –

The Americans and Donald Trump in particular have been particularly open about occupying and stealing Syrian oil, despite the international legal consequences of such claims.

Just yesterday Donald Trump stated unequivocally that U.S. troops will be remaining in Syria “just because we’re keeping the oil,” while Defense Secretary Mark Esper put it less explicitly this past Monday when he told the press that the current U.S. objective in eastern Syria is “to secure the oil fields.

Critics and international observers have pointed out that plundering Syrian oil would be a war crime under international law.

Under The Hague Convention and international law, occupying forces are permitted to use public assets that it manages, including the yield, but only so far as to fulfill its obligations under the law of occupation. The occupying power is not allowed to destroy assets, transfer their ownership to others or deplete them. Any effort to exploit a finite resource such as the oil reserves in Syria would be in contradiction to these laws. An expression of this principle is found in Section 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

This law against international plunder is one of the key aspects of international humanitarian law and the international community and United Nations must now be seen to act. If the United States is allowed to engage in international banditry then not only will it be a supreme double standard, it will render both international law and bodies such as the United Nations impotent. Burka


This article was originally published by Red Revolution Media on November 2nd 2019. It was republished, with permission, through a mutually agreed upon publishing partnership between Rogue Media and Red Revolution. Formatting edits were added/embedded by Rogue Media.

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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** If you can not browse the document hover over the pdf (above) and notice the up and down arrows on the bottom left. These will help you flip through the pages **

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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Russia Today Creates Online Test Asking Americans How Well They Know The US’s War On Terror

Browsing through the headlines this evening I stumbled upon a new test designed by Russia Today, asking Americans how well they know the US’s War On Terror? Interestingly enough, despite being a War reporter for the better part of the last 3 years, I only got 9 of the 14 questions right – a failing score of 65%. The test is simple and straight forward, taking maybe 2-3 minutes of your time. I do not want to give away any spoilers, because some of the information contained within the test is information that every American should know. Despite whatever you may think of the source whom created the test, it is an interesting and accurate way to consume information, facts and statistics you may not have previously been aware of – but really should.

Rogue Media Labs has managed to embed the test inside this article for you to take. If you would like to access the tests original location you can find it here: https://www.playbuzz.com/rtinternational/how-well-do-you-know-the-war-on-terror

Take Test:

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

Anon Ghost Launches New Offensive Against The Israeli Government In Retaliation for Gaza Air Strikes

In response to Israel’s bombing campaign earlier this week, allegedly targeting Hamas cyber-actors plotting to carry out a cyber attack, setting a first of its kind precedent to kill someone for simply using a computer in a clear act of War, Anon Ghost has vowed to mount a new offensive against the Israeli Government for their actions. For example, over the course of the last 24-36 hours, Anon Ghost hackers have already taken half a dozen Israeli websites offline at different intervals – with more attacks promised on the way.

Websites Already Coming Under Attack 05/10/2019:

Israel Central Bureau of Statistics: hxxp://cbs.gov.il/
Israel Lands Authority: hxxp://land.gov.il/
Israeli Investors: hxxp://israelinvestor.com/
Bank Hapoalim: hxxp://bankhapoalim.com/
Tel Aviv Stock Exchange: hxxp://tase.co.il/
Israeli Government Services and Information Website: hxxp://gov.il/

Amnesty International & AirWars Release Join Investigation Disclosing +1,600 Causalities by US Armed Forces In Raqqa, Syria Alone

(AI) – The US-led military Coalition must end almost two years of denial about the massive civilian death toll and destruction it unleashed in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Amnesty International and Airwars said today as they launched a new data project on the offensive to oust the armed group calling itself “Islamic State” (IS).

The interactive website, Rhetoric versus Reality: How the ‘most precise air campaign in history’ left Raqqa the most destroyed city in modern times, is the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in a modern conflict. Collating almost two years of investigations, it gives a brutally vivid account of more than 1,600 civilian lives lost as a direct result of thousands of US, UK and French air strikes and tens of thousands of US artillery strikes in the Coalition’s military campaign in Raqqa from June to October 2017.

No photo description available.
Visit Interactive Website: https://raqqa.amnesty.org/

By the time the offensive began, the IS had ruled Raqqa for almost four years. It had perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity, torturing or killing anyone who dared oppose it. Amnesty International previously documented how IS used civilians as human shields, mined exit routes, set up checkpoints to restrict movement, and shot at those trying to flee.

Download/Read Full Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE2469452017ENGLISH.PDF

Coalition forces razed Raqqa, but they cannot erase the truth. Amnesty International and Airwars call upon the Coalition forces to end their denial about the shocking scale of civilian deaths and destruction caused by their offensive in Raqqa. The Coalition needs to fully investigate what went wrong at Raqqa and learn from those lessons, to prevent inflicting such tremendous suffering on civilians caught in future military operations,” said Chris Woods, Director of Airwars.

Cutting-edge research on the ground in Raqqa and from afar

Amnesty International and Airwars have collated and cross-referenced multiple data streams for this investigation. On four visits since the battle was still raging, Amnesty International researchers spent a total of around two months on the ground in Raqqa, carrying out site investigations at more than 200 strike locations and interviewing more than 400 witnesses and survivors.

Amnesty International’s innovative “Strike Trackers” project also identified when each of the more than 11,000 destroyed buildings in Raqqa was hit. More than 3,000 digital activists in 124 countries took part, analyzing a total of more than 2 million satellite image frames. The organization’s Digital Verification Corps, based at six universities around the world, analyzed and authenticated video footage captured during the battle.

View Strike Trackers Project: https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/strike-tracker#decode-results

No photo description available.
Airwars and Amnesty International researchers analyzed open-source evidence, both in real-time and after the battle – including thousands of social media posts and other material – to build a database of more than 1,600 civilians reportedly killed in Coalition strikes. The organizations have gathered names for more than 1,000 of the victims; Amnesty International has directly verified 641 of those on the ground in Raqqa, and there are very strong multiple source reports for the rest.

Both organizations have frequently shared their findings with the US-led military Coalition and with the US, UK and French governments. As a result, the Coalition has admitted responsibility for killing 159 civilians – around 10% of the total number reported – but it has routinely dismissed the remainder as “non-credible.” However, to date the Coalition has failed to adequately probe civilian casualty reports or to interview witnesses and survivors, admitting it does not carry out site investigations.

Bringing cases to life

Rhetoric versus Reality brings to life the stories of families who lived and died in the war by taking users on a journey through the city; meeting survivors, hearing their testimonies and visiting their destroyed homes. From the bombed-out bridges spanning the Euphrates to the largely demolished old city near the central stadium, no neighbourhood was spared.

Developed with Holoscribe’s creative team, the interactive website combines  photographs, videos, 360-degree immersive experiences, satellite imagery, maps and data visualizations to highlight the cases and journeys of civilians caught under the Coalition’s bombardment. Users can also explore data on civilians who were killed, many of them after having fled from place to place across the city.

Entire city blocks flattened

Raqqa’s soaring civilian death toll is unsurprising given the Coalition’s relentless barrage of munitions that were inaccurate to the point of being indiscriminate when used near civilians.

One US military official boasted about firing 30,000 artillery rounds during the campaign – the equivalent of a strike every six minutes, for four months straight – surpassing the amount of artillery used in any conflict since the Viet Nam war. With a margin of error of more than 100 metres, unguided artillery is notoriously imprecise and its use in populated areas constitutes indiscriminate attacks.

One of the first neighbourhoods to be targeted was Dara’iya, a low-rise, poorer district in western Raqqa. In a ramshackle, half-destroyed house, Fatima, nine years old at the time, described how she lost three of her siblings and her mother, Aziza, when the Coalition rained volleys of artillery shells down on their neighbourhood on the morning of 10 June 2017. They were among 16 civilians killed on that street on that day alone. Fatima lost her right leg and her left leg was badly injured. She now uses a wheelchair donated by an NGO to get around and her only wish is to go to school.

Families wiped out in an instant

US, UK and French forces also launched thousands of air strikes into civilian neighbourhoods, scores of which resulted in mass civilian casualties.

In one tragic incident, a Coalition air strike destroyed an entire five-storey residential building near Maari school in the central Harat al-Badu neighbourhood in the early evening of 25 September 2017. Four families were sheltering in the basement at the time. Almost all of them – at least 32 civilians, including 20 children – were killed. A week later, a further 27 civilians – including many relatives of those killed in the earlier strike – were also killed when an air strike destroyed a nearby building.

Planes were bombing and rockets were falling 24 hours a day, and there were IS snipers everywhere. You just couldn’t breathe,” one survivor of the 25 September strike, Ayat Mohammed Jasem, told a TV crew when she returned to her destroyed home more than a year later. “I saw my son die, burnt in the rubble in front of me. I’ve lost everyone who was dear to me. My four children, my husband, my mother, my sister, my whole family. Wasn’t the goal to free the civilians? They were supposed to save us, to save our children.

Time for accountability

Many of the cases documented by Amnesty International likely amount to violations of international humanitarian law and warrant further investigation.

Despite their best efforts, NGOs like Amnesty International and Airwars will never have the resources to investigate the full extent of civilian deaths and injuries in Raqqa. The organizations are urging US-led Coalition members to put in place an independent, impartial mechanism to effectively and promptly investigate reports of civilian harm, including violations of international humanitarian law, and make the findings public.

Coalition members who carried out the strikes, notably the USA, the UK and France, must be transparent about their tactics, specific means and methods of attack, choice of targets, and precautions taken in the planning and execution of their attacks.

Coalition members must create a fund to ensure that victims and their families receive full reparation and compensation.

More Resources for Raqqa:

Site Tracker: https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/strike-tracker

Investigative Report – War of Annihilation: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE2483672018ENGLISH.PDF

Investigative Report – Deadly Labyrinth, Citizens Trapped In Battle for Raqqa: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE2469452017ENGLISH.PDF


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on March 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’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

 

The Yemen Papers: Classified Military Documents from French MoD Published Online

Earlier this morning, April 15th 2019, a non-Governmental Organization (NGO) going by the name of Disclose released a small cache of classified military documents outlining the French Governments role in the Yemen Civil War and the tragedy currently unfolding there. Officially entitled “The Yemen Papers” and comprising of 15 pages of classified material, the leaked documents outline France’s role in providing weapons and munitions to Saudi Forces and the United Arab Emirates for use in Yemen, whom have then turned around and used these weapons in countless War Crimes in the country.

In addition to publishing the documents, which have been consolidated and reloaded through this site to be accessible/browse-able to the public, Disclose has also set up an interactive website called “Made-In-France” to give readers more perspective on the leaked documents and the circumstances surrounding them – including the documentation of War Crimes carried out in and around the country over the course of the last several years. Both the website and leaks are world class, so I have made accessing them easy – see the information directly below.

Made In France – Yemen Papers Release: https://made-in-france.disclose.ngo/en/chapter/yemen-papers

Download/Own Yemen Papers Docs: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Yemen-Papers.pdf

As was previously explained by Julian Assange in 2017, following the release of other classified documents known as The Yemen Files, “Yemen is of significant strategic interest as Yemen controls a narrow choke-point to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal through which 11% of the world’s petroleum passes each day. In addition, Yemen borders Saudi Arabia (to the north) and Oman (to the east) and has access to the Arabian Sea, through which another 20% of the world’s petroleum passes from the Strait of Hormuz (including the oil of Saudi Arabia and Iran). Saudi Arabia seeks to control a port in Yemen to avoid the potential constriction of its oil shipments by by Iran along the Strait of Hormuz or by countries which can control its other oil shipment path along the Red Sea.

Adding that “the Yemen Files offer documentary evidence of the US arming, training and funding of Yemeni forces in the years building up to the war. The documents reveal, among other things, procurement of many different weapon types: aircraft, vessels, vehicles, proposals for maritime border security control and Yemeni procurement of US biometric systems.” Similarly, the documents released today outline the true extent to which France has gone about arming different militant groups/factions currently fighting in the Yemen Civil War.

Learn More – The Yemen Files (11/25/2017): https://wikileaks.org/yemen-files/document/

Browse Yemen Papers Release 4/25/2019:

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As was also reported by Amnesty International earlier today,

“These leaked documents provide clear evidence that French military equipment supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being widely used in the conflict in Yemen. Despite overwhelming evidence, Western arms supplied to the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led Coalition are being used to commit or facilitate possible war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, states such as France have shamelessly flouted their international obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Amnesty International’s repeated calls on the French Ministry of Defence to be transparent about French arms transfers since the conflict began have fallen on deaf ears. The information made public today should spur the French government to immediately suspend all arms transfers that could be used by any of the warring parties in Yemen – once and for all.”

Amnesty International has previously published an investigative report entitled “When Arms Go Astray,” outlining the destruction caused by US and European weapons shipments into Yemen at the hands of UAE and Saudi forces.

Read Full Investigation – When Arms Go Astray: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/

As Amnesty International is also quick to point out, more than a quarter of a million people have signed Amnesty International’s petition calling on their governments to immediately stop arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Sign The Petition Here: https://www.amnesty.fr/controle-des-armes/petitions/yemen-stop-aux-ventes-darmes-francaises

You can also learn more about the situation in Yemen and other international efforts to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia and UAE through the links/resources provided below.

Rogue Media Labs – Yemen Results: https://roguemedia.co/?s=Yemen&x=0&y=0

Learn More – Court Rules Criminal Complaint Against UK Parliament for Arming Saudi Arabia In Yemen Civil War Can Move Forward: https://roguemedia.co/2019/04/10/court-rules-criminal-complaint-against-uk-parliament-for-arming-saudi-arabia-in-yemen-civil-war-can-move-forward/

 

Court Rules Criminal Complaint Against UK Parliament for Arming Saudi Arabia In Yemen Civil War Can Move Forward

(HRW) – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and RW UK intervened in a court case beginning today that is challenging the United Kingdom’s continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. The case is being heard by the Court of Appeal for three days starting on April 9, 2019.

Copy of Criminal Case Against UK: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/ngos_challenge_saudi_arms_sale.pdf

The landmark case, brought by the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), seeks to establish that the UK government is breaking its own arms export licensing criteria by continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, given the clear risk that the weapons would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The High Court in London dismissed the case in 2017, but the Campaign Against Arms Trade won the right to appeal, and the three groups, along with Oxfam, again received permission to intervene.

The UK government says it has very rigorous arms controls, yet weapons continue to be sold to Saudi Arabia despite considerable evidence of Saudi-led coalition abuses in Yemen,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “This case is a key opportunity to make sure that the UK rules on arms sales are being properly applied to Saudi Arabia.” The three organizations are intervening to address the meaning of the term “clear risk” of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, which governs when arms sales should not take place. They also intend to set out the importance for the UK government and other decision-makers to take into consideration research and reports on the abuses in the war in Yemen by the United Nations and by nongovernmental groups.

Since the coalition began its aerial campaign in Yemen in March 2015, the UK has licensed at least £4.7 billion (US$6.1 billion) worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch researchers have regularly visited Yemen and documented the use of weapons, including weapons made in the UK, in strikes that appeared to be unlawful. The UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Yemeni rights groups have repeatedly documented unlawful attacks by the coalition that have hit homes, markets, schools, and hospitals, and killed and wounded many civilians.

Since 2016, Human Rights Watch has called for all countries to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi-led coalition ends its unlawful attacks and credibly investigates those that have already occurred. A growing number of European countries have halted sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria.

The organizations are represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn, Jemima Stratford QC, Nikolaus Grubeck and Anthony Jones.

Browse Full Case:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on April 9th 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, Tweets & Documents added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

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:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/MDE1201472019ENGLISH1.pdf” title=”MDE1201472019ENGLISH(1)”]


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

As Palestinians Celebrate The Great March of The Return Again Tomorrow, Here’s A Remembrance To Israeli War Crimes Dating Back Nearly One Year Ago To The Day

(HRW) – On Saturday, March 30th 2019, Palestinians in Gaza will head to the fences with Israel that effectively serve as their prison walls to mark one year since they began weekly demonstrations against Israel’s more than decade-long closure of Gaza.

The protests, known as the “Great March of Return,” commemorate the expulsion and flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees when Israel was established in 1948. Today, the majority of Gaza’s population are these refugees or their descendants, all of whom the United Nations considers refugees.

Israeli forces fire tear gas towards Palestinian demonstrators near the fences separating Gaza and Israel, as seen from the Israeli side, on March 30, 2018. © 2018 Reuters

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 Gaza protests determined that Israeli forces had killed 189 protesters in 2018 and wounded more than 6,000 with live fire between March 30 and December, “many while standing hundreds of meters from the snipers.” The snipers, as one commissioner put it, “shot at unarmed protesters, children and disabled persons, and at health workers and journalists performing their duties, knowing who they are.

Download Full Investigative Report From United Nations Here: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoIOPT/A_HRC_40_74.pdf

The commissioners concluded that, while demonstrations were “at times violent,” 187 of those killings were unlawful ­ cases in which protesters didn’t pose an imminent threat to life or where force was “neither necessary nor proportional” ­ and that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Human Rights Watch did not investigate every case, but found that Israeli forces repeatedly fired on protesters who posed no imminent threat to life, pursuant to expansive open-fire orders from senior officials that contravene international human rights law standards, acts that may amount to war crimes, since international humanitarian law applies given Israel’s continuing effective control over Gaza.

Every protester has their own story:­ a footballer I spoke with who was shot in the leg and was awaiting treatment outside of Gaza so he could again play the game he loved. A photojournalist friend struck in the eye by a teargas canister while covering a demonstration in December and unable to work since his injury. But there were common threads: barely getting by economically, never having left Gaza, yearning for the chance to live in a dignified manner. Will anyone listen?


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on March 29th 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, Tweets and videos added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

United Nations Releases Findings from Gaza Protests Investigation, Revealing Countless Crimes Against Humanity At The Hands of The Israeli Government

I’m not exactly sure why I just saw this report for the first time yesterday, but it comes as the result of months of investigation into the Palestinian protests of 2018 – protests which saw the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, along with the injury of well over 23,000 more. Entitled “Report of The Independent Internal Commission of Inquiry On The Protests In The Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the 22 page documents details several human rights violations that almost certainly constitute crimes against humanity at the hands of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. As a result, not only is the United Nations calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to file War Crime charges against the Israeli Government, but they are also demanding Israel to “Lift the blockade on Gaza with immediate effect.

However, this has yet to come to fruition – and almost certainly never will. Moreover, the Israeli Government has dismissed the findings of the United Nations as nothing more than anti-Semitism. I know, real original – right?

Download Full Report Here: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoIOPT/A_HRC_40_74.pdf

Summary of Key Findings from Inquiry:

  • The commission found in the killings of 189 demonstrators between 30 March and 31 December 2018, 183 were killed with live ammunition, including 35 children, 3 health workers and 2 members of the Press.
  • Only 4 Israeli snipers were lightly injured, none were killed by demonstrators.
  • 23,313 Palestinian demonstrators were injured during the 2018 demonstrations, 6106 with live ammunition, “contributing to the highest toll of injuries recorded in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2005.
  • On the killing of child demonstrators, the commission found “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot them intentionally, knowing that they were children.
  • On the killing of health workers, “the commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers intentionally shot health workers, despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such.
  • On the killings of journalists, “the commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot journalists intentionally, despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such.
  • The commission found that both male and female protesters were shot in the groin. The female victims told the commission they are now “unlikely to be able to have children.
  • The policy of the Israeli Minister of Defense, was to deny passage to any person injured during demonstrations, causing unnecessary deaths and life changing injuries.
  • According to the commission, except in two possible cases, “the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful.
  • Israel used a “disproportionate use of force.
  • The “demonstrators were shot in violation of their right to life or of the principle of distinction under international humanitarian law.
  • The commission found “reasonable grounds to believe that the excessive use of force by Israeli security forces violated the rights” of thousands of demonstrators who were peaceful.
  • The commission found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israel violated “The Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Violations of international law, such as those committed by Israeli security forces and set out in this report, give rise to State responsibility…

Individual Reports of Note:

Injury of 17 Mohammed Ajouri (17 years old)

      • “Israeli forces shot Mohammad, a student-athlete, in the back of his right leg as he gave onions to demonstrators to relieve tear-gas symptoms, approximately 300 m from the fence. His leg had to be amputated.”

The murder of Abdel Fatah Nabi (18 years old)

      • “Israeli forces killed Abed, from Beit Lahia, when they shot him in the back of the head as he ran, carrying a tyre, away from and about 400 m from the separation fence.”

The murder of Bader Sabagh (19 years old)

      • “Bader, from Jabaliya, was killed by Israeli forces when they shot him in the head as he stood smoking a cigarette 300 m from the separation fence.”

Injury and murder of schoolgirl (13 years old) and Marwan Qudieh (45 years old)

      • “Israeli forces injured a schoolgirl with bullet fragmentation. As she lay on the ground, four men attempted to evacuate her. The forces shot three of them, killing Marwan Qudieh (45) from Khuzaa village and injuring a potato seller and another man in the legs. One of the rescuers had to have a leg amputated.”

Injury of Alaa Dali (21 years old)

      • Alaa, a member of the Palestinian cycling team, was shot by Israeli forces in the leg as he stood holding his bicycle, wearing his cycling kit, watching the demonstrations, approximately 300 m from the separation fence. His right leg had to be amputated, ending his cycling career.”

May 14 demonstration, seven children killed

      • “On 14 May, Israeli security forces shot and killed seven children: a girl, Wisal Khalil (14), and six boys: Izzedine al-Samak (13); Said al-Kheir (15); Ahmad al-Sha’ar (15); Talal Matar (15); Saadi Abu Salah (16); and Ibrahim al-Zarqa (17).”

The murder of Mohammad Najar (33 years old)

      • “Israeli forces shot Mohammad, a naval police officer, in the chest, killing him, as he sat on a hill with a friend, around 500 m from the separation fence.”

The murder of Yasser Abu Naja (11 years old)

      • “On 29 June, Israeli forces killed Yasser from Khan Younis with a shot to the head as he was hiding with two friends behind a bin, approximately 200 m from the separation fence. The children had been chanting national slogans at Israeli forces.”

The murder of Nasser Mosabeh (11 years old)

      • “Nasser was from Khan Younis. On 28 September, Israeli forces shot him in the back of the head as he stood 250 m from the separation fence. He died the same day.”

The murder of Razan Al-Najar (20 years old)

      • “On 1 June, an Israeli sniper bullet hit Razan, of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society and who at the time was wearing a white paramedic vest and standing with other volunteer paramedics approximately 110 m from the separation fence, in the chest at the Khuzaa site, east of Khan Younis. She died in hospital.”

The murder of Yasser Murtaja (30 years old)

      • “On 6 April, Yasser, a journalist from Gaza City, was shot in the lower abdomen by Israeli forces at the Khan Younis site while he was filming the demonstrations for a documentary. He was wearing a blue helmet and a dark blue bulletproof vest clearly marked “Press”. He died the following day.”

Amputation of Abed Nofal (11 years old)

      • “On 17 April, Abed, a schoolboy from the Bureij refugee camp, was shot by Israeli forces while he was playing football near the separation fence. His leg had to be amputated.”

Full Report from United Nations Investigation:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/UN_Gaza_Protests_Findings.pdf”]

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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