Social Organizations Appeal to the Constitutional Court
Thursday, March 4, 2010
(Translated by Emily Hansen, CSN’s Program Assistant)
Social organizations have declared unconstitutional and unenforceable the agreement between the governments of the Republic of Colombia and the United States. The agreement is beneficial for the technical defense and security assistance and the cooperation between the two governments. A group of social organizations has used citizen intervention to appeal to the Constitutional Court. The Lawyers Collective, organized by Jose Alvear Restrepo, is one of the participating organizations.
The citizen intervention asks the Court and the Accusations Commission of the Branch of Representatives to investigate the action of the President of the Republic and the ministers subscribing to the document.
According to the signatories of the intervention, the agreement goes against the principles of separation of powers and sovereignty. Within this agreement, the signatories do not find any consideration for the Colombian principles of reciprocity, equity, and national benefit, which are essential for international relations.
These concerns were recognized by the State Council that previously declared the Agreement costly and burdensome for Colombia and advised the Government to ratify the agreement through the constitutional proceedings already in place for the processing of international treaties. The State Council recommends that the Agreement should be approved through legal proceedings and should be reviewed by the Constitutional Court. Nevertheless, the Government dismissed these political and legal recommendations of the State Council, and decided to unilaterally sign the Agreement, sidestepping the functions of the other branches of public power.
The document, signed on the 30th of November, 2009, between the governments of Colombia and the United States, has as a principal objective the authorization of unrestricted access of United States military forces, and other national agents of third party countries authorized by the United States, to seven Colombian military bases distributed through the entire national territory
This Agreement puts into place a set of measures that will benefit the United States personnel during their initial stay in Colombia of 90 days – a stay that can be indefinitely extended. The measures, all in favor of the United States, include the renunciation of a variety of Colombian military powers including migratory, fiscal, tributary, transit, and customs powers, and especially military, territorial and air rights.
Additionally, the Agreement establishes a regime of immunity exclusively for the civil diplomats, and benefits the United States military and their families. The Agreement authorizes the exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum without cost or license. As if this were not enough, the Agreement establishes a series of open measures that the countries will decide through implementation agreements. Therefore, some aspects of the signed Agreement are not yet known.
In addition to testing the legality of the Agreement, the intervention asks for all of the implementation agreements to be adopted before the date of implementation of the Military Bases Agreement. The intervention also demands that the State Council be allowed to further investigate their prior claims against the Agreement, and that the entities of the Public Ministry declare what manifestations of control they exerted during the negotiation of this Agreement.