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Equipo Nizkor Communiqué in light of the disappearance of intelligence and counter-intelligence files from the DAS

1. On Wednesday 18th June 2014 it was discovered that computer files of the Intelligence Section of the former Department of Administrative Security [Dirección de Inteligencia del Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS)] have disappeared or been hidden. These should have been available on computers in the custody of the so-called "DAS in the process of liquidation" ["DAS en Supresión"] and under the supervision of the Office of the Inspector General of the Nation [Procuraduría General de la Nación].

2. During a legal inspection ordered by the 9th Special Prosecutor reporting to the National Directorate of Analysis and Contexts of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, who is investigating the aggravated psychological torture of Claudia Julieta Duque, correspondent of Radio Nizkor in Colombia, the Special Prosecutor could not find the information concerning areas of Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence and Reserve Expenditures which should have been stored on computers handed over to the National General Archives [Archivo General de la Nación (AGN)] in September 2013.

3. On the first visit by the Prosecutors to the AGN offices on 10th June 2014, various irregularities were identified, such as the fact that the supposed access codes to the computer which was meant to contain the Information System of the DAS (SIFDAS) were incorrect and as a result, the investigation had to be postponed. In addition, the store where the access keys were located was open and the envelopes containing the passwords did not have control seals.

4. In the light of the above and at the request of the journalist Duque, the Procuraduría ordered an investigation to be carried out against the Director General of the former DAS, Ricardo Fabio Giraldo Villegas.

5. In 18th June the Prosecutor's office carried out a second legal inspection at the AGN and although, on this occasion, it was possible to access the computer that was meant to store the complete programme files of the SIFDAS, the Technical Investigation Corps [Cuerpo Técnico de Investigaciones (CTI)] ascertained that these archives either did not exist or were not accessible.

6. On 2009 the complete archive of the SIFDAS was 54 Gigabytes (Gb) in size and contained, inter alia, the database with the proof of the surveillance and other illegal operations carried out against the so-called "targets" of the DAS. At the time of the legal inspection on 18th June the SIFDAS was only 91 megabytes (Mb) in size and comprised only fingerprint cards of all the citizens stored with the National Civil Registry, the curriculum vitae of the DAS officials and the entry and exit records of persons to the DAS headquarters.

7. As Claudia Julieta Duque stated during the legal proceedings, this has turned the most important intelligence and counter-intelligence database in Colombia in to a "software game of lies".

8. The disappearance, concealment and/or destruction of the archives which contained the SIFDAS clearly constitutes a further assault on the victims of this public entity and on Colombian justice given that the objective of these acts is to obstruct the legal investigation into various crimes committed by DAS officials under the pretext of national security and State intelligence.

9. Since October 2011, the date on which the liquidation of the DAS was ordered, various human rights organizations have warned that the abolition of this entity would result in the concealment of the truth, not only from the victims of illegal wiretapping but from citizens as a whole, who had and have the right to memory and historical truth in respect of the serious crimes in which the Colombian secret police have been involved since its inception. Among these crimes are the acts of persecution against the opposition which occurred long before the misnamed "wiretapping" ("chuzadas") scandal, the murders of Luis Carlos Galán and Bernardo Jaramillo and the legal "cover-ups" such as that which led to impunity in the homicide of the journalist Jaime Garzón Forero.

10. The DAS, while in the process of liquidation, continues to report hierarchically and functionally to the Presidency of the Republic. It is therefore clear that the responsibility for the disappearance, concealment or destruction of the files on Intelligence, Counter-Intelligence and Confidential Expenses of the SIFDAS lies with the National Executive whose hierarchical head is the President Juan Manuel Santos.

11. According to article 24 of Decree No. 4057 of 2011 which ordered the liquidation of the DAS, the principal task of the director of this entity, Ricardo Fabio Giraldo Villegas, is the adoption of "the measures necessary for the administration, preservation and integrity of the organisation's archives" in order to "guarantee the security of the intelligence archives". His responsibility is therefore direct and undeniable.

12. The members of the Advisory Board of the DAS in the process of liquidation are also responsible for what has taken place. They are the Justice Minister, Alfonso Gómez Méndez, his Deputy Minister Daniel Samper Strouss; the Defence Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno, his Deputy Minister for International Policies and Affairs, Jorge Enrique Bedoya; and the Senior Presidential Adviser for Citizen Coexistence and Security, Francisco José Lloreda Mera. In its article 22, decree 4057 assigns to the Advisory Board the responsibility of providing the Director in liquidation with general guidelines "for the process of custody and management of the information archive of the DAS in order to ensure its integrity".

13. The loss, concealment and/or destruction of the SIFDAS information is an impediment to any possibility of identifying further perpetrators of the serious attacks against Claudia Julieta Duque or further human rights violations committed by this organisation; as well as an impediment to any reconstruction of the information as to who ordered and carried out the persecution against opposition civil society in Colombia and as to their motivation. That is the only way of ascertaining the underlying criminal responsibility and of learning how this criminal organisation or joint criminal enterprise operated (to use international criminal law terminology).

14. Today it is clear that the warnings issued at the time were reasonable. It is a proven fact that the Office of the Inspector General of the Nation has been at best outwitted and at worst an accomplice in what could be described as the systematic destruction of the protective measures for the stored archives of the DAS (in liquidation) for which it was responsible.

15. As we stated in our communique of 13th March 2013, the importance of the case of Claudia Julieta Duque is based on the fact that the level of proof is solid, incontrovertible and compelling and the advancement of the criminal proceedings constitutes a boundary imposed from the judiciary on the criminal violations of civil liberties inherent in the design and execution of these types of counter-intelligence operations in respect of which proof is rarely available. These proceedings against the DAS are one exception in Latin America.

16. The liquidation of the DAS was programmed to be finalised by the 27th June 2014 and its closure implies the end of the legal existence of the DAS. Thus, those responsible for these actions will be dispersed into various State entities or will dissipate into a comfortable retirement. As an international human rights organisation, we call on the President to order the investigation, identification and punishment of those responsible for the disappearance and/or destruction of the SIFDAS archives and the preservation of the evidence compiled to date in the case of Claudia Julieta Duque.

17. Given the seriousness of the events, we demand that the Intelligence archives of the DAS, as well as the 21 billion paper documents (according to the case record) which are now at the AGN, be handed over to the custody of the Public Prosecutor's Office and that this entity should analyse, systematise and inform the citizens of Colombia on any discoveries it makes. It must also work to recuperate the electronic information which should still be on the original servers of the DAS and in order to do so it must take the necessary technical measures to ensure the back up and duplication of all the digital information; as well as to adopt systems of electronic and passive control of the information and the premises where the information is stored. Similar measures must be adopted with respect to the digitalization and storage of the paper records.

18. Conscious of the further risks that are now inherent in this case, we again hold the State of Colombia responsible for any deterioration in the security situation of Claudia Julieta Duque, her family or her lawyer, Víctor Javier Velásquez Gil.

Charleroi, Madrid and Bogotá, 22 June 2014

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small logoThis document has been published on 01Jul14 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.