American personnel are rarely disciplined under the local legal systems

Chris Allbritton at the Daily Beast has much more on that Colombian report.

U.S. soldiers and military contractors stationed in Colombia allegedly sexually assaulted as many as 54 Colombian children between 2003 and 2007, according to a report commissioned by the Colombian government and the FARC leftist rebel group. But none of the Americans have been prosecuted because of bilateral agreements and diplomatic immunity, the report alleges.

Spokespeople for the U.S. Army told The Daily Beast that they’ve seen no evidence of such crimes.

How astonishing! When things were set up so that responsible officials wouldn’t see evidence of such crimes, how astonishing to learn that they haven’t seen any.

The section detailing American involvement in the conflict was edited by Renán Vega Cantor, a leftist professor of history at la Universidad Pedagógica Nacional de Bogotá.

“In Melgar and neighboring Girardot,” he wrote, “53 minors were sexually abused by mercenaries, who also filmed and sold the tapes as pornographic material. Also in Melgar, a contractor and a sergeant in the United States raped a 12-year-old girl in 2007. Both their activities, as well as their immunity, contribute to the insecurity of the population in conflict zones.”

“There is abundant evidence of sexual violence and total impunity, thanks to bilateral agreements and diplomatic immunity of U.S. officials,” Vega continued, “part of sexist and discriminatory behavior known as ‘sexual imperialism’ similar to what happens in other places where U.S. military forces are stationed.”

The Army spokesperson said the Army had seen no credible evidence of this but an investigation is possible.

Military cooperation between Colombia and the United States goes back decades—and has long given American troops diplomatic immunity. A 1974 Military Missions Agreement grants “United States personnel and their dependents the privileges, exemptions, and immunities accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission under the Vienna Convention.”

But that cooperation was radically expanded under Plan Colombia, Washington’s $7.5 billion program to help Bogota fight drug cartels and leftist rebel groups like the FARC and National Liberation Army, or ELN.

Because US troops never get carried away, never punish civilians in any way, never rape, never conceal rape…and once again I find myself on the throne of Marie of Romania.

In the most explosive allegations in Colombia, Vega wrote, up to 54 young women and children were allegedly drugged and taken back to bases, where in some cases the abuse was alleged to have been filmed and sold as pornography. In the most notorious case, Colombian prosecutors accused a U.S. Army soldier and a defense contractor of drugging and raping a 12-year-old girl in 2007 after taking her back to a military base in Melgar where they were stationed.

The alleged victim’s mother recently told El Tiempo, Colombia’s biggest daily newspaper, that on the evening of Aug. 26, 2007, her two daughters, 12 and 10, went to buy food in downtown Melgar. A couple of hours later, the younger daughter returned alone, saying her older sister had disappeared after going into a nightclub to use the bathroom. The two U.S. military men left her in a park the next morning, according to several witnesses, El Tiempo reported at the time.

Afterward, the mother went to the base to confront the men who she says raped her daughter. “The response was, ‘Your daughter is a little whore; nothing happened here,’” she told El Tiempo.

According to McClatchy, the two men were not arrested. Instead, they were flown out of the country under diplomatic immunity and have never been prosecuted despite attempts by Colombian prosecutors.

I had this idea that diplomatic immunity didn’t cover rape and other violent crimes. I thought that was why Strauss-Kahn was arrestable, for instance. Also, soldiers are not diplomats.

It’s a problem the United States military faces around the world. There are hundreds of cases of alleged sexual assault of civilians by U.S. military personnel and contractors in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and elsewhere. However, American personnel are rarely disciplined under the local legal systems and often receive little more than letters of reprimand from the chain of command.

How very colonial.


  1. Donnie says

    How astonishing! When things were set up so that responsible officials wouldn’t see evidence of such crimes, how astonishing to learn that they haven’t seen any.

    A very bad thing occurs

    Leaders: Astonishing! We have never seen any reports of inappropriate behaviour at any conference, nope.
    Peon: Excuse me, kind sirs. I hate to be a bother, but remember me reporting a separate incident directly to you ‘X’ years ago about ‘Y’ person? In fact, Leader Z was there, personally, and intervened on my behalf to prevent a bad thing from happening.
    Leaders: Well, that incident wasn’t reported through official channels written in an official report, so it does not count
    Leaders: How do we blacklist, threaten, and intimidate that Peon in order to avoid future incidents?
    Leaders: Astonishing! We have never seen any reports of inappropriate behaviour ……

  2. says

    And even if those in command know about it, they’re quite willing to whitewash things.

    I was living in South Korea back in 2002 when the two US military thugs ran over the two teen schoolgirls. Whether it was deliberate or just negligence is still up for debate. The US military quickly removed the two from the country to prevent them from facing any prosecution, and went through the motions of a show trial (and acquital, of course) for the two. The Koreans were (and still are) furious about the incident, and rightly so. That incident mirror’s Donnie’s sarcasm (#1), the US military doesn’t count the deaths in their traffic statistics because there was no conviction.

    It doesn’t even have to involve death or rape. On holiday in Okinawa two years ago, I witnessed with my own eyes two fatuous individuals in fatigues and a military vehicle trying to intimidate a Japanese citizen with whom they had a collision. I didn’t see the accident nor who was at fault, but I did see their aggressive tone toward the man and complete lack of professionalism.

    It’s easy to see their mentalities and willingness to use violence. On the lighter side of things, the driver of the SUV in this video handled it perfectly. (Warning: please excuse the language.)

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