Human Rights Watch (HRW) has asked Colombia’s Supreme Court to explain the resignation of Magistrate Ivan Velasquez who is considered the motor behind investigations of politicians with ties to paramilitary groups, reported newspaper El Tiempo Thursday.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of the HRW, said that in light of the resignation of the “star investigator of parapolitics” Velasquez, “all eyes will be on the Supreme Court of Colombia and in the advance of the investigations.”
Vivanco indicated that the renunciation of the magistrate is a great loss for justice and he urged the high court to explain the details of removing Velasquez from his position as head of the special investigation unit of the parapolitics scandal, in which over 3,000 Colombian politicians, public officials and businessmen are suspected of being involved with paramilitary organizations.
The Colombian judge has widely been considered the motor behind investigations of ties between lawmakers and paramilitary groups, and handed in his resignation Wednesday, just three weeks after he was relieved of the position.
Vivanco cited the court’s release from August 23 explaining that Velasquez had obeyed the court’s order to “rotate the responsibilities assigned to employees.”
“This explanation has awoken strong questions, as Dr. Velasquez had served as coordinator of the investigations of parapolitics since they created the position in 2007,” said Vivanco.
The director of HRW also emphasized Velasquez’ performance over the last five years, a time in which the Supreme Court condemned nearly 50 ex-members of congress for having paramilitary ties.
“The brave performance of Dr. Velasquez has been converted into a reference for the search of justice for the violations of human rights committed in Colombia,” added Vivanco.
In respect to the Supreme Court’s release which criticized two columnists questioning the decision to remove Velasquez from his position as coordinator, the director of HRW also pronounced to the court that instead of “censuring the press by threatening to bring criminal libel charges, the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia should explain in detail the reasons which Dr. Velasquez was removed from a position in which he had performed outstandingly.”
According to El Espectador, the consensus is that most judges agree they will not accept the letter of resignation which came less than three weeks after Velasquez’ removal as head of investigations of parapolitics.