Newsbrief: Washington Says Colombian Military Meets Human Rights Conditions, Frees More Money 5/3/02

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Secretary of State Colin Powell certified Wednesday that the Colombian military has met human rights conditions mandated by Congress. The move frees up $62 million in US military assistance and comes in the face of harsh denunciations by human rights groups, who said that the Colombian military had failed to take "even minimal steps to meet the conditions."

The human rights conditions imposed by Congress had centered on ending impunity for military human rights abuses and breaking links between the military and the rightist paramilitaries of the AUC, which is officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. "The decision to certify Colombia on human rights misrepresents the facts in order to keep the aid spigot open," Bill Spencer, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America, told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch/Americas Director Jose Miguel Vivanco told AP that ties between the Colombian military and the AUC remain. "The administration is proposing millions in counterterrorism aid to Colombia even as the Colombian military refuses to break ties with a designated terrorist group," he said.

The Colombian military, on the other hand, was crowing in delight and counting its new money. "This is a recognition of the (military's) upright behavior," said Defense Minister Gustavo Bell.

US officials were unable to cite significant progress in reducing human rights abuses by the military. One official pointed to the case of the highest ranking officer in the Colombian Marines, who was accused of numerous human rights violations. He has been restricted to administrative duties as punishment.

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Issue #235, 5/3/02 Editorial: Return of the Drug Czars | Former British Drug Policy Head Says Legalize it All | Thai Police Death Squads Accused of Killing Drug Dealers | South Dakota Amendment Would Give Criminal Defendants Right to Argue Merits, Applicability and Validity of Laws | Summer Concert Bust Season Gets Early Start in Alabama -- Rockers Can Take Steps to Protect Themselves, Say Advocates | It's National Drug Court Month -- Do You Know What You're Getting for Your Money? The Government Doesn't, Says GAO | Newsbrief: Washington Says Colombian Military Meets Human Rights Conditions, Frees More Money | Newsbrief: Japan to Outlaw Magic Mushrooms, Loophole Slams Shut | Newsbrief: China Faces Plague of Yuppie Dopers as Disposable Income in Cities Rises | Newsbrief: Prospects Dimming For Vermont Medical Marijuana Bill | Newsbrief: Italian Legislative Body Asks for Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: BC Marijuana Party Head to Run for Vancouver Mayor | Newsbrief: Eleven House Pages Fired for Marijuana Use -- NORML Offers Them Jobs | Newsbrief: Connecticut Carpenters Strike Over Wages, Drug Testing | Web Scan: De Greiff, Blumenson, Weitzel, GAO, Canada | Errata: Drug War Race | The Reformer's Calendar

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