Posted by Katharina Wecker on Sep 1, 2009 Leave a comment

US military enjoy immunity, not impunity: Colombia

Colombia news - US military

U.S. soldiers serving in Colombia will have immunity but not impunity, the country’s
Foreign Minister said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez explained on Caracol Radio that the military agreement with the United States, allowing the U.S. army to operate from at least seven Colombian bases, will allow immunity to U.S. military personnel, but that this does not mean the soldiers will have impunity if they commit crimes.

If U.S. soldiers break the law on Colombian territory, Colombian and U.S. authorities will work together so the soldiers can be tried by U.S. prosecutors, Bermudez said. In the case of any damage, the U.S. government will pay compensation, he added.

“The immunity is not an invention of this agreement. Immunity exists since the Vienna convention in 1961,” Bermudez explained. “The Colombians have immunity when they are part of a foreign mission,” the politician added.

Bermudez explained further that “there will be no immunity for U.S. contractors” in Colombia.

The Foreign Minister said there is still no definite text of the agreement between Colombia and the United States but the Colombian government has no objection to disclosing the document once it has been made official.

Immunity for U.S. soldiers as arranged in the military deal is criticized inside Colombia after reports of soldiers impregnating Colombian women, rape and drug trafficking. South American leaders oppose the deal, suspicious of U.S. intentions in the continent.