The United Nations expressed concern Monday that a Supreme Court investigation of Colombia’s ex-president Alvaro Uribe may pose “possible violations of fundamental rights.”
UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Diego Garcia wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, an ally of the controversial former president, in which he expressed his concern.
The former president, who has clashed with the Supreme Court on multiple occasions, had requested the Peruvian UN official to review his claims that his rights were violated while investigated on witness tampering charges.
After decades of allegations indicating Uribe had ties to the Medellin Cartel and paramilitary death squads, the court opened a criminal investigation in February.
Uribe has clashed with the Supreme Court since he was president between 2002 and 2010. The country’s intelligence agency was found wiretapping the country’s highest court in 2008, which the president claims turned the judicial body against him.
In his current case, Uribe’s defense attorneys claimed that the criminal investigation should have been conducted by the penal chamber, but was ordered by what is now the appeals chamber.
Colombia’s Supreme Court opened the investigation in February while in the process of creating a new chamber that would allow defendants, including Uribe, to appeal Supreme Court decisions.
Moreover, the court allegedly failed to surrender evidence to the former president’s defense team, which would harm Uribe’s ability to defend himself against the charges.
I would like to express concern regarding the allegations that in the case of Mr. Uribe Vélez there would have been violations of due process, equality in criminal proceedings, lack of impartiality, restriction of access to the double instance and violation of the principle of equality.
UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Diego Garcia
The court is investigating Uribe over the alleged intimidation of witnesses who testified about the Uribe family’s alleged role in the formation of paramilitary death squads in the 1990s.
Multiple witnesses who have testified against the former president have been assassinated.
The UN rapporteur requested a report on the alleged crimes the Supreme Court is investigating within 60 days and to be notified on measures taken by the Colombian government to guarantee fairness in the trial.