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AT LEAST 118 Colombian military personnel have been investigated since 2016 for alleged involvement in sexual abuse of minors, the army’s commanding officer revealed today.
The announcement was made after furious protests erupted in the country earlier this week, when soldiers were accused of raping two indigenous young girls.
Of the 118 soldiers and army officials, 45 were fired and 73 are facing investigation by the attorney general and procurator’s offices, General Eduardo Zapateiro said today.
The army has “zero tolerance” of sexual abuse by those within its ranks, Gen Zapateiro said.
Last week, seven soldiers were arrested for allegedly gang-raping an 11-year-old indigenous girl in Risaralda province.
The men, along with three of their superiors, have been fired, and two senior officers reassigned to another station.
Last weekend the case emerged of another girl, allegedly sexually abused by a group of soldiers at an army camp in the jungle in Guaviare province.
The 15-year-old was abducted from the Nukak Maku tribe and held for five days without food or water at the base, where she was repeatedly sexually assaulted, according to Colombian think tank the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation
Human Rights Watch said that the assaults were not isolated incidents, and that it had information on cases involving at least nine more victims from indigenous tribes.
Gen Zapateiro denied any systematic effort to protect army members implicated in acts of sexual violence against minors, and said that all soldiers received human-rights training.
He did not respond to further allegations of sexual harassment made by female soldiers.
Colombia is the largest recipient of US military aid and is expected to receive more than $180 million (£143 million) this year.
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