The Colombian government is asking those women who were victim of sexual violence committed by U.S. troops to come forward to authorities with any information , according to Colombian media reports Wednesday .
At least 54 girls in Colombia were raped by United States troops in the country between 2003 and 2007, according to a report that was released in February.
The 800-page document was jointly prepared by the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group amid the ongoing peace talks between the two sides that has been underway in Havana, Cuba since 2012.
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The FARC and the Colombian government have been trying to bring peace to the country, which has seen over 50 years of civil war and violence. However, the report highlights the fact that U.S. troops stationed in the country may have also been part of the infractions.
The report details cases of U.S. personnel raping at least 53 adolescents near Tolemaida, the country's largest military base, and the nearby town of Melgar in central Colombia. The youngest victim was only 12 years old, who was allegedly abducted and raped by a U.S. sergeant and a U.S. defense contractor.
Investigators also found that the U.S. officials involved also videotaped the assaults and made copies to sell as pornography, says the report.
Cristina Plazas, director of the Colombian family welfare institute ICBF, has ordered the creation of special committee to search for the adolescents who suffered the alleged abuses and urged the victims of sexual violence to come forward to authorities.
The special committee will “make an active search for these women, in order to file the respective complaints and so that they can receive psychological support from the state,” said Plazas to El Tiempo newspaper.
Renan Vega Cantor, a contributor in the report and head of the Department of Social Sciences at the National Pedagogical University, said the crimes went unpunished all of these years because of special U.S. immunity in the country thanks to bilateral accords and the military aid that the U.S. provides Colombia.
According to Vega, U.S. officials in Colombia are granted diplomatic protection under the 1974 Military Missions Agreement. The two countries have had even stronger bilateral ties since the U.S. launched Plan Colombia – a military and diplomatic initiative supposedly focused on battling the drug cartels – in 1999.
Vega said the U.S. troops in the country “contribute to the insecurity of the people.”
The U.S. embassy in Bogota said it “takes very seriously any allegation of sexual misconduct by one of its officials.”