A spokesman for the US Army Criminal Investigation Command says that it is looking into allegations that its military personnel and contractors sexually abused Colombian women and girls during their mission in the country from 2003 to 2007.
“U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command will, after coordinating with Colombian authorities, initiate an investigation into any credible allegations of sexual assault or criminal acts committed by U.S. soldiers while in that country,” said Christopher Grey, a spokesman with Army CID, the command’s common acronym. “We take the issue very seriously and will aggressively pursue all credible allegations.”
Grey emphasized that no criminal investigation has been launched, and the recently initiated cooperation with the Colombian government is not a joint investigation.
Press TV report: The scathing allegations were made last week in a report by the Colombian government and the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
The report says that US soldiers and civilian contractors sexually assaulted at least 53 Colombian females in the Tolemaida air base in the town of Melgar, some 60 miles (96 km) southwest of the capital Bogota.
The perpetrators purportedly filmed their victims and sold the recordings as pornographic material. The victims were between 19 and 21 in the videos.
An earlier investigation showed that a 12-year-old girl had been abducted and raped by a US sergeant and a civilian contractor in 2007. However, the US military determined the allegations as unfounded.
Colombian observers say the alleged crimes have gone unpunished because of bilateral agreements and diplomatic immunity granted to American soldiers and officials.
Renan Vega of the Pedagogic University in Bogota said that US officials in Columbia are granted diplomatic protection, therefore they feel they are above the law.
This is not the first time that American personnel have been accused of sexual misconduct in the South American country.
US drug enforcement agents stationed in Columbia attended “sex parties” with prostitutes over several years which were funded by local drug cartels, according to a recent report.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents, including senior supervisors, had sex with prostitutes and committed other serious sexual misconduct, said a report published last month by the US Justice Department.
In 2012, US Secret Service agents were swept up in a sex scandal while preparing for the arrival of President Barack Obama in Cartagena, Colombia.
The agents had brought several prostitutes to their hotel but US authorities were only alerted to the incident when one of the agents became involved in a dispute over payment to one of the prostitutes.