Election of Colombia’s top human rights official on hold after Congress dumps president’s shortlist

President Ivan Duque (Image: Democratic Center)

The election of Colombia’s new ombudsman came to a halt on Tuesday after one of President Ivan Duque‘s candidates withdrew and another was dismissed.

The president gave the House of Representatives a list of three candidates last week, but was asked to surrender a new shortlist after U Party candidate Elizabeth Martinez withdrew, and a second one, Myriam Martinez, was dismissed for lacking experience.

The U Party candidate was the least controversial of the three candidates proposed by Duque, who wants Congress’ to elect an ombudsman, the country’s top human rights official, who is “not of the opposition.” U Party director Aurelio Irragori told lawmakers.


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Martinez was highly controversial as she went from palm oil federation Fedepalma, which represents some of the country’s most notorious land thieves, to become the director of the country’s Land Agency.

The only remaining candidate, Carlos Camacho, is the director of the National Federation of Provinces who controversially dropped an investigation into Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, a director of the president’s far-right Democratic Center party, for allegedly receiving bribes by Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht.

With only one candidate left, opposition Representative Jorge Gomez, the chairman of the committee studying the presidential shortlist, ordered the president to come up with a new shortlist.

The Liberal Party, which is no member of the government coalition, had already said that it would vote for Camacho after the U Party, who also lacked the qualifications, withdrew.

The vote that was scheduled for Friday, however, is unlikely to continue as planned as Duque will have to come up with two new candidates that both must be qualified to assume the position of the country’s top human rights official.

This means the president will have to look for actually qualified candidates Duque allegedly also expects not to be critical of his respect for human rights.

 

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