Colombia’s goverment formed a commission Thursday to debate the merits of making public the details of the military bases agreement with the United States.
The committee is composed of the ministries of Interior and Justice, Foreign Affairs and National Defense, and the Legal Secretariat of the Presidency, “in order to analyze and report to the President regarding its scope, and to provide relevant recommendations as soon as possible,” a government press release states.
Minister for the Interior and for Justice, Fabio Valencia, previously said that the matter was a national security issue that should remain reserved. Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez, however, said that the issue of immunity does not apply to contractors, reported newspaper El Tiempo.
The agreement permits U.S. military access to seven Colombian army bases, ostensibly to help in the fight against drug trafficking.
“I find it a serious issue, that versions of the agreement are being given to the State Council,” Valencia said, referring to Thursday’s revelations by Cambio magazine. “This is [a question of] national security,” he added, “and we [are not required to make public the agreement]. It is of a confidential nature.”
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez said that the deal does not mean that there will be immunity for contractors in Colombia, which he acknowledged only applied to military personnel in Colombia under the bases agreement.
“The issue of immunity is not an invention of this agreement; it is an international convention, the 1961 Vienna Convention, which applies to this case and others,” Bermudez said, adding that “in this agreement Colombia has the poosibility to support ongoing investigations and track and be informed of progresses made.”
He added that if reparations need to be made in the face of eventual crimes, they would be assumed by the United States authorities.