Colombia modified its extradition law so that demobilized paramilitaries participating in the Justice and Peace program can not be immediately extradited until they have adequately complied with the national reparation process, the Ministry of Justice and the Interior announced via a press release Tuesday.
The ministry said that as per decree 2288 of June 25, “[for] the people who are requested for extradition and are being tried under procedures established by the Justice and Peace law, their handover will not be immediate, but deferred a year, extendable on the judgement of the government.”
The press release states that extradition may be postponed when a paramilitary is required to answer to crimes in Colombia, is participating in Justice and Peace and has victims with in Colombia that must be reparated.
“With this norm, the national government seeks to ensure compliance with international commitments made by Colombia, among which, as well as being tried for crimes committed in the exterior… maintain the guarantee of a trial on national territory,” the press release states.
However the ministry stresses that extradition will not be deferred in the case that a participant in the Justice and Peace process does not adequately fulfill the requirements of justice, truth and reparation, or when they have been found to have continued to engage in crime after demobilizing.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has clashed recently with Colombia’s Supreme Court, after the tribunal denied the extradition of several former paramilitary bosses, including Freddy “El Aleman” Rendon Herrera and Daniel “Don Mario” Rendon Herrera.
The court expressed concern that extradition interferes with the Justice and Peace process and announced in May that it would consider amending the extradition treaty.
Uribe maintains that Colombia has done everything possible to ensure that extradited paramilitary bosses continue to participate in the Justice and Peace process.
Extradited paramilitaries themselves have complained that their extradition has stopped them from adequately participating in the reparation process.
The U.S-Colombian extradition treaty has been in place since 1982 and was amended in 1997 to allow for the extradition of Colombian nationals.
The demobilization process of AUC paramilitaries has been widely criticized by victims, human rights organizations and the United Nations for allowing right-wing paramilitary fighters and their economic and political allies to enjoy almost complete impunity for the suspected 30,000 murders committed by members of the organization.
However the Colombian government defends the demobilization, stressing that the peace process led to the discovery of some 40,000 crimes.
According to a report by the government’s high commissioner of peace — responsible for the demobilization process — 53,037 members of illegal armed groups have demobilized since 2002 when Uribe took office.