Paramilitary Self Defense Groups/Death Squards (informal) (Colombia)

Country: Colombia
Details of Formation: The Paramilitary Self Defense Groups/Death Squads were outlawed in April 1989. The group did not cease to be a PGM, because it continued to have a close relation to the Colombian military (Wikipedia). The outlawed Paramilitary Self Defense Groups (informal) are therefore the successor PGM to the semi-official Paramilitary Self Defense Groups.
Details of Termination: The paramilitary groups joined the newly created Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) in April 1997. About 90% of paramilitary groups joined the AUC (Wikipedia). Some groups did not join, but later government links were reported to AUC, not to the remaining independent paramilitaries, which therefore do not count as PGM. The Paramilitary Self Defense Units (informal) were thus succeeded by the AUC as PGM.
Purpose: The main purpose of the informal paramilitaries remained the same, i.e. to combat insurgents. They were also used for intelligence gathering and committing murders. The informal PGM allowed the government and military to deny links and responsibility for paramilitary human rights abuses. (Wikipedia)
Organisation: After the paramilitary groups had become informal, covert intelligence networks to combat the insurgency were created by the Armed Forces Directive 200-05/91. They laid the groundwork for continuing illegal, covert partnership between the military and paramilitaries: Paramilitary members were incorporated into local intelligence networks and cooperated in activities, which solidified linkages with the military (Wikipedia). In late 1989, the paramilitaries declared that they were always taking orders from the security forces. Paramilitary groups were financed by the military, but also by landowner and drug cartels.
Weapons and Training: Paramilitary group received training and weaponry form the Colombian military (Wikipedia). They were described as “heavily armed” (Amnesty International). A news source adds that they also received training and intelligence support of local police; another news source, dated 1989, mentions training received by the Medellin drug cartel.
Size: --
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: Paramilitaries are considered to have dramatically increased violence in Colombia. They were involved in “social cleansing” operations against homeless people, drug addicts, orphans, and other “undesirables” (Wikipedia). By 1994, several thousand civilians had been killed by paramilitary groups over the past five years, as paramilitaries continued to kill and disappear civilians with impunity (Amnesty International). A news source adds that they were also involved in arbitrary arrests and torture of civilians. Civilian courts found that regular security officers organized (political) killings committed by the paramilitaries. A news source of 1991 said that civilians were not longer under regular attack, but that the paramilitaries were still hunting down suspected left-wing sympathizers.
Other Information: The Paramilitary Self-Defense Groups comprised more than 130 groups, including for example the PEPES, the Black Hand, Love for the Homeland and Death to Revolutionaries.
References: Amnesty International. 1994. “Possible disappearance/Fear for Safety. Francisco Eriberto Galvan Lopez, aged 46.” AI Index: AMR 23/41/94. 12 May.

Wikipedia. “Right-wing paramilitarism in Colombia”.