Human Rights Abuser Promoted

News from Colombia | on: Friday, 14 December 2007

A Brigadier General in the National Police of Colombia has been promoted despite the fact that he is being investigated for illegally tapping the phones of human rights groups taps that led, in at least one case, to the forced disappearance of two human rights defenders.

Brigadier General Mauricio Santoyo Velasco, who is currently under investigation by the Prosecutor General for ordering the illegal interception of nearly 1500 phone lines, was promoted to General of the Nation in a December 7th ceremony presided over by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. In a slap in the face to victims and their families, President Uribe singled out the General for special mention. "Allow me to make an unusual personal mention" said the President, "for the help that we have received in our struggle for security in Colombia, in the name of my family and my closest collaborators, Mr General, Thank you very much!"

Ivan Cepeda, spokesperson for the National Movement of Victims siaid of the promotion "Unfortunately we have seen it many times. Military officers, police officers, and others, end up being decorated, promoted, even given diplomatic posts after being involved in crimes of lesser humanity either through direct participation of through giving orders to others."

Marta Soto, a representative of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared (ASFADDES) also expressed her disgust at the promotion: "We believe that Brigadier General Santoyo should not be promoted until his legal situation is resolved. A person with this stain on their CV should not be allowed to be made a General." Soto added that two members of the ASFADDES staff, Claudia Patricia Monsalve and Angel Jose Quintero, had both been forcibly disappeared in Medellin and that the investigation had shown that their phone lines were tapped "Yet no justice has yet been seen in their case". The case of the two disappeared human rights defenders was eventually linked to Brigadier General Santoyo.

Marta Pena, President of the Popular Education Institute in Medellin, added that the promotion "confirmed a tendency during Alvaro Uribe's government to give high ranking military and diplomatic posts to those involved in violations of human rights, just making the situation of impunity in this country even worse".



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