Colombia’s Supreme Court on Thursday said that demobilized paramilitaries should not be extradited until they have participated in the Justice and Peace process, which involves confessing to human rights abuses committed by paramilitary groups.
Magistrate Jaime Arrubla explained that the court’s rejection on Wednesday of a U.S. request for the extradition of former paramilitary boss Edwar “Diego Vecino” Tellez Cobos was based on the fact that paramilitaries “must first comply with the requirements of the Colombian justice system before they can be extradited.”
Arrubla said that the court has been advocating for some time that paramilitaries complete the Justice and Peace process before being extradited, adding that the court has always been in favor of extradition.
There are ongoing concerns that Colombia’s Justice and Peace process – in which former paramilitaries are given reduced sentences in exchange for co-operating with justice – is too slow. The process is intended to heal the wounds left by Colombia’s long armed conflict, by encouraging paramilitaries to tell the truth about their crimes.
A report published on Tuesday by Berkeley University was the latest in a series of criticisms that extraditions are leading to demobilized paramilitaries enjoying impunity for human rights abuses they committed while in Colombia.