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Friday, November 23, 2007

Declaration on the Spanish Foreign Ministry=?ISO-8859-1?B?uQ==?=s Support for Colombia=?ISO-8859-1?B?uQ==?=s Justice and Peace Law

[Translated by Micheal O’Tuathail, La Chiva, a CSN volunteer translator]
On the two year anniversary of the implementation of the Justice and Peace Law
The below signed organizations have become aware of the celebration in the Casa de América, Madrid, of the seminar, entitled “International Seminar: Evaluating Two Years of the Application of the Justice and Peace Law,” and of the 1st “Salvamos Colombia” International Forum in Barcelona.
We regret that, on this occasion, just as in that which occurred during the approval and implementation of [the Justice and Peace] law, neither the victims nor the organizations that represent and accompany them have been taken into account. On the contrary, the central focus remains on the victimizers.
On this anniversary of Law 975 of 2005, more commonly known as the Justice and Peace Law, we would like to hereby state that:
Of the demobilized, 92% have received the benefits granted by Law 782 of 2002 and Decree 128 of 2003 [1], and only 8% have fallen under the Justice and Peace Law.
Law 975 of 2005 came about as a means for ensuring the impunity of Crimes Against Humanity committed by paramilitaries and their supporters, thereby eluding potential prosecution by the International Criminal Court [2].
This continues to serve as the primary objective of the Colombian government, to not charge paramilitary members with the crime of insurrection, something that the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice has objected to [3].
Although the benefits extended to those subject to this law were conditional upon the cessation of hostilities [4] and their contributions to peace, namely confessing to the entirety of the crimes committed, none of these conditions have been met. Moreover, in spite of this, the law has not been stopped nor has a single case been publicized about the revocation of those benefits.
The primary objective of the law, the effective disbandment of paramilitary groups and their structures and the control of their financing (drug trafficking), has not been attained [5].
The legal structure is designed to disallow the real participation of victims in the demobilization processes: the hearings are private, and their transmission through the mass media is prohibited; also, direct interrogations may not be filed [6].
The victims have not, and will not, receive reparations through Law 975 of 2005. Similarly, on the individual level, they will neither receive restitution, compensation, nor readjustment [7]. On the collective level, there is no guarantee that the crimes will not be repeated. The paramilitaries are able to hide their property, including that which they obtained unlawfully; also, that which is delivered will not begin to cover what has been paid by the totality of the victims of the conflict. The government considers collective and symbolic reparations to be the suitable mechanisms through which the victims of the conflict might receive compensation [8].
As of today, the victims continue to run grave risks: threats, intimidation, displacement, and murder [9].
It has been briefly revealed that profound relationships exist between specific state agencies (the army, police, DAS [Security Services], parliament, senate, etc) and paramilitary groups, links that social organizations have been reporting for a long time.
Be aware that, based on the aforementioned, this law and its implementation has not so much as attempted to satisfy the guarantees of truth, justice, and reparations recognized by the International Rights of Victims.
It is for this reason that we would like to express our profound disagreement with the celebration of this seminar and forum, which attempt to present this law as a step towards peace in Colombia, ignoring the voices of victims and paying special attention to victimizers.
We also demand that the Spanish state:
 - Neither second nor support initiatives and policies directed at validating the Justice and Peace Law as a means through which the conflict in Colombia may be resolved, especially given that the only objective of this law is to attain impunity for crimes against humanity committed in the country.
 - Immediately revoke the support of the Spanish government for the supposed demobilization of the paramilitaries, given their disregard for the principles of truth, justice, and reparation.
 - Cease all support for the Colombian government until human rights are fully respected in this country.
 - Take all possible measures to stop the extradition of paramilitaries to the United States to face drug trafficking charges; this is used as a mechanism through which to gain impunity for crimes against humanity committed in Colombia.
We should all remember what the Inter-American Human Rights Court said (in the Barrios Altos vs. Perú case, Sentence 14 March, 2001):
“Become inadmissible resolutions of amnesty and resolutions of prescription and the establishment of exclusionary responsibility that attempt to impede the investigation and sanction of those responsible for violations of human rights, such as torture, summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, and forced disappearances, all of which contravene inalienable rights recognized by international human rights law […] 43. Laws of self-amnesty work to ensure the indefensibility of victims and the perpetuity of impunity, issues that are manifestly incompatible with the letter and spirit of the American Convention […] 44. […] Such laws lack judicial effects and cannot continue to represent an obstacle for the investigation of the facts, paving the way for, in this case, neither the identification nor the punishment of those responsible.”
Logroño, 28 October, 2007
Organizations in the Spanish state:
AMSALA – Asociación Misionera Salvatoriana para Latinoamérica
Asociación Española para el Desarrollo y la aplicación del Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos (AEDIDH)
Asociación Acción Verapaz
Asociación de Amistad Rioja-Cuba
Asociación de Mujeres Feministas: Laguz.
Asociacion Pro Derechos de la Infancia - Melilla
Asociación Solidaridad Derechos Humanos Colombia
Campaña Contra el Plan Colombia
Colectivo de Solidaridad por la Justicia y Dignidad de los Pueblos: COLICHE
Colectivo IQUIQUE
Colectivo Sur Cacarica
Colectivo Sur Cacarica, de Valencia
Comité de Solidaridad Oscar Romero de Madrid
Comité de Solidaridad Oscar Romero de Zaragoza
Comité de Solidaridad Internacionalista de Zaragoza
Comunidad Cristiana de Base Sto. Tomás de Aquino
Comunidades Cristianas Populares
Comunidad de Vanguardia Obrera
Ecologistas en Acción, España
Ecologistas en Acción – Madrid
Ekologistak Martxan
Equipo Nizkor
Espacio Alternativo-Madrid
Federación de Comités de Solidaridad con África Negra
Izquierda Unida - La Rioja
Izquierda Unida de la Comunidad de Madrid
Komite Internazionalista de Ermua (País Vasco)
Komite Internazionalistak de Euskal Herria
Logroño en Bici-Ecologistas
Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de España
Paz con Dignidad
Plataforma Rural /Alianzas por un Mundo Rural Vivo
Red Capicua
Salva la Selva - Latinoamérica
Secretaría de la coordinadora de los Comités Oscar Romero del Estado Español
Sodepaz Balamil
Soldepaz Pachakuti (Asturies)
Unión de Juventudes Comunistas de España
Xàrxa de l'Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Catalunya
Other Organizations:
Andas Medellín
Asociación Campesina de Antioquia (Colombia)
Asociación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos ASFADDES (Colombia)
Asociación para la Promoción Social Alternativa -MINGA- (Colombia)
Association Asamblee International de la Societe Civil por La Paix de Colombie Dans Le Monde, Section Suisse.-AIPAZCOMUN (Suiza)
Comité Estudiantil de Derechos Humanos Gustavo Marulanda, Colombia
Comité Permanente de Derechos Humanos Héctor Abad Gómez, Colombia
Corporación Compromiso – Bucaramanga (Colombia)
Corporación Jurídica Libertad, Colombia
France Amérique Latine Bordeaux Gironde (Francia)
Fundación Sumapaz, Colombia
End Notes:
1. A ruling that excludes said criminals from being investigated and put to trial for crimes committed owing to their membership in an illegal armed group; rather, the decree seeks to grant pardons, self-inhibit judges, prematurely end investigations, and cease proceedings, all of this without the necessity to assume the responsibility to confess the truth regarding the acts committed, including crimes against humanity.
2. In September of 2004, the magazine Semana revealed the content of several recordings made in Santa Fe de Ralito between the High Commissioner for Peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo, and spokespersons of the AUC. In these conversations, the paramilitaries expressed worry with respect to the reach of the International Criminal Court. The High Commisioner responded, “… the danger of the Court isn’t imminent. It can only work if justice hasn’t been given in the country. That is why the model being set forth focuses on judgment and sentencing in this country. The fact that the government offers a law that includes a sentence is important because it blocks the possibility of international jurisdiction.”
3. See text of the sentence denying that paramilitary activities can be classified as ‘political crimes’ or ‘sedition’. Supreme Court of Justice, Sala de Casación Penal, Bogotá, 11 July 2007. See also: the commentary on the sentence that refuses the paramilitaries the legal classification of ‘sedition’ and ‘political crimes’. Transcription of the commentary on the sentence by Radio Nizkor, 19 July 2007.
4. According to the Colombian Commission of Jurists, paramilitary groups have continued to operate while in the process of negotiating with the government. Since the beginning of this process, on 1 December 2002, and up until 30 April 2007, at least 3040 civilians were either killed or disappeared by paramilitaries. The government has failed to react, even though it had announced that the process was conditional that the groups not commit even one more murder. On the contrary, the High Commissioner for Peace has declared, “the end of hostilities is a metaphor that ought to be used with a lot of flexibility”.
5. The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation published the report “Dissidents, Rearmed, and Emerging: Criminal Gangs or A Third Paramilitary Generation?” (Area of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR), August 2007), where it notes the existence of 22 groups who together number between 3500 and 5000 armed men operating in 20 departments in the country that coincide with areas formerly controlled by paramilitaries.
6. The Supreme Court, in its 11 July 2007 sentence, expressly states: “The Supreme Court affirms in this sentence that Article 71 of Law 975 of 2006 violates the rights of victims” and adds:
“1. The participation and interest of victims in the sentencing process resolves an issue: beyond the mere expectation of obtaining economic reparations -- as a simple subjective law that makes the crime a source of responsibilities that would have a judicial route for the exercise of attaining wealth – that would become a fundamental constitutional right that among which would guarantee (1) effective reparation for the offense suffered, (2) assure the state obligation to find and make known the truth about the events, and (3) an accessible means to justice, which would be in accordance with Colombia’s Constitution, penal law, and international treaties that form part of the block of constitutionality.
2. The perspective of the victim can only be understood when it is accepted, as it must be in order for it to remain covered by:
“a system of guarantees founded in the principle of effective judicial guardianship, of wide international recognition, and with evident constitutional acceptance by way of Articles 229, 29 and 93 of the Charter. This premise is characterized by the establishment of a system of guarantees of a bilateral nature. That implies that guarantees such as the access to justice (Article 229); to equality before the hearings (Article 13); to defense during the process (Article 29); to the impartiality and independence of the hearings; to the effectiveness of the laws (articles 2 and 228); and that they be relevant, as much for the accused as for the victim. This bilaterality has been admitted by this body in order to point out the completeness of due process, which involves the premise of legality, due process in the strictest sense, the right to defense and its guarantees, and natural judgment. These apply equally to the victims and the accused.”
7. Restitution: the victim can return to the situation prior to the violation. Compensation: for psychological and moral damage, including loss of opportunity, material damage, defamation, and legal expenses. Readjustment: medical attention that addresses the need for psychological and psychiatric attention.
8. Article 16, Decree 3391 of 2005 – Mechanisms for victims’ reparations: “… the integral character of reparation is not established as the exclusive function of an economic nature…”
9. The National Commission for Reparation and Reconciliation published the report “Dissidents, Rearmed, and Emerging: Criminal Gangs or A Third Paramilitary Generation?” (Area of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR), August 2007), where it is stated: “Moreover, those illegal coercive groups have shown, with more clarity in recent months, their willingness to exercise political control and intimidate social organizations working in support of paramilitary victims’ organizations”.
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org



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