The Office of the Attorney General brought charges against members of criminal organizations for 708 acts of recruitment perpetrated against minors in the national territory.

In a meeting held with the General Director of the Colombian Institute (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar ICBF), Lina Arbeláez; the presidential advisor for Human Rights, Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez; and the presidential advisor for Children and Adolescents, Carolina Salgado; the Deputy Attorney General, Martha Mancera, received the report with the collective denunciation against the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional ELN) and residual armed groups for the systematic forced recruitment of children and adolescents.

The minors listed in the document who were victims managed to dissociate themselves and were treated in the ICBF´s special program to restore their rights.

Concerning the denunciation, the Deputy Attorney General stated that all the technical and investigative resources to speed up the processes to achieve the prosecution of those responsible who have attacked the integrity of children and adolescents will be implemented.

On the other hand, she stressed that it is important to the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa Delgado, to concentrate all investigative activities on this criminal type with a group of prosecutors exclusively focused on this issue, who belong to the directorate to support investigations and analysis against organized crime (Dirección de Apoyo a la Investigación y Análisis contra la Criminalidad Organizada-Daiaco in Spanish) who, together with investigators and analysts, are specialized in investigating and prosecuting this type of criminal phenomenon.

The Office of the Attorney General has been undertaking investigations about this criminal and systematic phenomenon under a prioritization strategy that has made it possible to identify the areas with the highest number of recruitments and use of girls, boys and adolescents by armed groups. That is Arauca, Norte de Santander, Bajo Cauca, South of Córdoba, Chocó, Cauca, Nariño and Meta.

This strategy has focused on: (i) listening to the victims, who in turn are witnesses to this criminal practice; (ii) associating the cases in macro-investigations focused on the prosecution of those responsible people; (iii) prioritizing and assigning them to DAIACO prosecutors.

In that sense, the Deputy Attorney General Martha Mancera pointed out that there are conclusive results such as the prosecution, as an absent person, of alias Pablito, alias Gabino, alias Antonio García and alias Pablo Beltrán, members of the ELN Central Command (COCE)  for 258 recruitments committed by the different fronts of that armed group in Colombian territory, as well as 11 other commanders.

Likewise, she stated that “from 2016 to date, 100 recruitments have been attributed to FARC´s dissidents and to different groups that commit crimes in the departments and regional corridors of the country (…). Also, we have 316 facts attributed to those who left the Peace Process and were excluded by the JEP. These people have an arrest warrant for the crime of illegal recruitment”.

In addition, cases with 18 victims were attributed to the Gaitanistas Self-Defense Forces, while ‘Los Caparros’ with 16 victims. In total, during 2019 and 2020, the Office of the Attorney General charged members of these groups due to 708 acts of illicit recruitment.

Consequently, on the occasion of the report presented, the Office of the Attorney General, the ICBF, and the presidential Offices of Human Rights and Childhood will continue working in a joint manner, and “a new route will be created to analyze the contexts where the events took place to be able to listen to the children and adolescents of this atrocious activity of recruitment and to be able to continue attributing the commanders and the COCE their responsibility for victimizing acts of minors who appear in the national territory, ”emphasized Deputy Attorney Mancera.

According to the provisions of the Strategic Direction of the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa Delgado, it is a priority for the Office of the Attorney General, the investigation and prosecution of this criminal phenomenon in which children and adolescents in Colombia are victims.

When we speak, results follow.