BOGOTA – Colombia is investigating 12 cases of alleged rape of young girls from an indigenous tribe, involving military personnel in at least three of these incidents of sexual abuse, an official said.
Deputy Attorney General Martha Janeth Mancera, during her Saturday visit to San Jose del Guaviare, capital of Guaviare province, said her office would “give priority to all the 12 cases and not only those involving military personnel.”
Two soldiers from the Joaquin Paris Infantry Battalion were earlier this week accused of raping a 15-year-old from the indigenous Nukak Maku tribe in September 2019.
Mancera said for the past three days, significant steps were taken to uncover the details of the case and the questioning of potential witnesses was on.
She said the attorney general’s office would form a special task force to fast track these cases.
Mancera said the prosecutors were investigating the cases keeping in view ethnic sensibilities and had roped in psychologists, forensic anthropologists, and analysts along with an interpreter of the native language of the Nukak Maku tribe.
Army General Eduardo Zapateiro had earlier said that 118 military personnel were investigated since 2016 for alleged sexual abuse of minors.
These include officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers, and civilians who work in the military.
“Thirty-one members were removed from the institution: 12 sub-officials and 19 soldiers. This administrative measure was taken under legal norms that regulate personnel and by a decision of the head of the national army,” the army said in a statement.
This was announced after a 12-year-old girl from Embera-Chami village was allegedly sexually abused last month in the Risaralda province by seven soldiers.
General Zapateiro said three officers from the San Mateo Artillery Battalion were removed and the soldiers implicated were in prison.
Six of them had accepted the rape charges while the other confessed to the collusion in the crime, he said.
In another statement, the military said it was investigating two more soldiers accused of sexually abusing two girls on Thursday.
The soldiers were deployed in a rural area of Carlosama municipality in the Narino province.
“The circumstances of time, means and place of the incident (…) will be established by the investigation undertaken by the Attorney General,” the statement said, alleging that there were conflicting versions about the incident.