Amnesty International calls on the incoming Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos to strengthen the country’s justice system and “end the culture of impunity.”
In a press release published Thursday the NGO marked the change of government, due to take place August 7, with an appeal for the new leader to “ensure the independence of the country’s justice system.”
The handover of power is a chance to end the Uribe administration’s hostility to human rights defenders, including attempts to link them with guerrillas, according to AI. The new government must “make clear that the defence of human rights is not a threat to the security of the state,” says Marcelo Pollack, the organization’s Colombia researcher.
AI also criticizes the Uribe government for trying to “discredit” the Colombian Supreme Court and for seeking to protect military personnel from civil prosecution.
The NGO cites the killings of 300 people working in judicial investigations over the last fifteen years, along with the murders of 114 indigenous people, 39 unionists, and 8 human rights defenders in 2009, as evidence that the justice system is in need of reform.
The press release demands “urgent action” to stop “the killing of and threats against witnesses, lawyers, judges, human rights defenders and prosecutors involved in human rights cases,”
It also called for an end to human rights abuses by guerrilla groups and by the security forces.