According to an independent report commissioned by the Colombian government and FARC rebels, United States soldiers and military contractors are responsible for sexually abusing at least 54 children between 2003 and 2007 — but they were not prosecuted because of immunity clauses in the American diplomatic treaties with the government.
The focus of the report was not on the Americans’ actions — it was intended to help those negotiating to end the 50-year-long conflict between the Colombian government and leftist rebels, and the behavior of the American soldiers and contractors is included in a section about the relationship between the United States and the Colombian government.
According to Renan Vega of the Pedagogic University in Bogota, the information about the sexual abuse is discussed as part of a historical treatment on the ways in which the American government helped its Colombian counterpart as part of the War on Drugs.
He said that “there exists abundant information about the sexual violence, in absolute impunity thanks to the bilateral agreements and the diplomatic immunity of United States officials.”
One of those cases, reported by El Nuevo Herald in 2009, involved an Army sergeant and a Mexican contractor who were accused of raping a 12-year-old girl in 2007.
According to the Herald, Sgt. Michael Coen and contractor César Ruiz were accused by Colombian prosecutors of drugging and raping the girl inside Colombia’s Germán Olano Air Force Base in Melgar. Prosecutors had evidence, but the pair were whisked out of the country by the United States, which claimed they had diplomatic immunity.
Their victim, however, was allegedly forced to flee the area because of threats made against her by pro-American parties in the Colombian government.
Watch Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman discuss the report below.