Colombian media outlet El Tiempo asked Colombia’s presidential candidates if they would cut a deal with drug traffickers, granting the criminals a block on their extradition to the U.S., in exchange for a full confession and the reparation of their victims.
“Extradition needs to be compatible with the truth, justice and reparation of the victims;” Partido de la U’s candidate Juan Manuel Santos said in reply to the question, “to strengthen cooperation with the U.S. and guarantee the turning in of narcos’ property for reparation; to create procedures so that the victims have access to the truth, and to maintain extradition in order to dismantle drug trafficking networks; and to construct a justice to persecute the crime.”
“No. My government will not engage in exchanges under pressure. It would be a bad signal to send to [narco] leaders who turn themselves in or are captured. It has already been achieved that ‘para’ bosses confess to their crimes and reveal the truth independently of their possible extradition. In my government there will be truth, justice and the handing back of land to victims. We will work with international bodies to avoid impunity,” said Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus.
“Extradition is inalienable because it is part of our legal system. It is advisable and necessary to maintain it. We should seek the truth and reparation of victims at the time when a criminal is extradited. We must strengthen the justice system and deal with the judging of high-danger criminals and economic power,” the Conservative Party‘s Noemi Sanin said.
“I have defended the necessity for the truth, justice and reparation in order to overcome impunity and the hatred that violence generates. To confess the truth and reparate the victims, including the return to their land, would facilitate the exchange of extradition for a trial in Colombia, which would have the benefits of a confession, reparation and handing back of land, provided there no crimes against humanity had been commited,” said Polo Democratico’s Gustavo Petro.
“I would not negotiate the extradition of drig traffickers in exchange for truth and reparation. Some of them have only committed drug trafficking crimes and, in as such, there wouldn’t be much sense in negotiating with them. I would extradite them if a foreign government requested it and if the Supreme Court approved it. They should respond to Colombian justice for their crimes,” said Liberal Party candidate Rafael Pardo.
“Drug trafficking is not a political crime, and drug traffickers sshould not seek protection from justice in any way different. No norm exists that authorizes the government or the justice system to make a deal with drug traffickers,” said German Vargas Lleras of Cambio Radical.
Extradition is a hot topic in Colombia at the moment. The Supreme Court is seeking a “review of the mechanisms that are currently running against the extradition treaty” so that reparations can be made to the victims of paramilitaries before the are jailed in the U.S. The court is concerned that extradition to the U.S. of criminals has lead to a lack of reparation and justice for their victims.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe called a meeting the Supreme Court to discuss the Court’s recent refusal to extradite prominent drug lords.
U.S Ambassador William Brownfield said at the beginning of May that the U.S. government has no intention of re-examining the extradition treaty, but was open to reassessing the way the system worked in order to facilitate Colombia’s Justice and Peace process.
Brownfield had previously said he would ask his government to adjust the U.S-Colombia extradition treaty, in order to avoid a repeat of the Colombian Supreme Court’s decision to block the extradition of drug lord “Don Mario.”
Campaigning for the Colombian presidency will close Sunday evening. From midnight Sunday, candidates are prohibited by law from staging public appearances until the elections on May 30.