The extradition of key paramilitary leaders to the U.S. was “a fatal blow to investigations into parapolitics” and was done in order hide the truth, according to Americas Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Jose Manuel Vivanco.
Vivanco said in an interview with El Espectador that he believed that extradited leaders such as Salvatore Mancuso and Don Berna were prepared to cooperate with justice and that their extradition was unnecessary.
Their extradition “gives the impression that the idea was precisely to silence them,” Vivanco said. “To silence them is the only explanation that I can come up with [as to why they were extradited].”
“The worst thing is that up until this point there is no mechanism that ensures the effective and trustworthy collaboration of those responsible for the worst atrocities in Colombian history,” he added.
Vivanco also expressed HRW’s concern that the potential second re-election of President Alvaro Uribe would threaten democratic institutions because of the constitutional changes that would have to occur to make him eligible to run again.
HRW is due to release a report on the state of human rights in Colombia. Among the themes it will cover are paramilitarism and the rise of new paramilitary groups, the false positives cases, the increase in violence in cities such as Medellin, and the DAS wire-tapping scandal.