In 2011 the Colombian left wing political opposition demanded that a complete search of the country be undertaken after the “False Positive” scandal was exposed. So far the search has, in 3 years, found 28,000 bodies deposited in unmarked graves. The forensic investigators carrying out the investigation have only searched 26% of the countries cemeteries, with plans to search every single one, and are not sure how many bodies will turn up.

The “False Positive” scandal began in 2008 when it came light that a group of young men from one of Colombia’s slums had been promised jobs, the men were brought to one of the country’s military brigades and were executed. The brigade then dressed the men up as Farc rebels and made it appear as though they were killed in action. This allowed military members to boost kill rates, which they were under pressure to raise, and resulted in promotions and various perks for those in charge. The process was repeated in one way or another thousands of times by many facets of the country’s security forces.

In total more than 5,000 members of the military have been involved in the scandal, with more than 800 being found guilty. The total number of civilian that were killed is estimated in the tens of thousands. The Human Rights Watch released a report last year which details the confirmed killing of at least 3,000 civilians by security forces between 2002 and 2008.

The search as a whole, known as “The Search for Unidentified People in Colombia”, is an attempt to find the many thousands of people who have gone missing or been forcibly disappeared during the country’s 50 year internal conflict. How many of the 28,000 bodies discovered in the last 3 years are a result of the “False Positives” is unknown. The search will continue until 2019, when the government hopes to have searched every cemetery in the country.

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