Nine NGOs participating in an Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) hearing in Washington criticized Colombia’s Justice and Peace process as giving impunity to human rights abusers, and accused the government of persecuting rights groups, reports W Radio.
Gustavo Gallon of the Colombian Commission of Jurists (CCJ), called the Justice and Peace process, which is designed to give paramilitary fighters reduced sentences in exchange for demobilizing and telling the truth about their crimes, “the most gigantic operation of impunity in the country’s history.”
Gallon said that the process had allowed 28,000 of the 31,000 people accused of crimes against humanity to go free without investigation.
Meanwhile there is “a list of 3,600 people filed with the prosecutor, only 600 have appeared before the court, and the authorities do nothing about it, no warrants or anything,” said Gallon.
The NGOs also called attention to their systematic persecution by government agencies in the court’s session on the human rights situation in Colombia.
A spokesperson for NGO Corporacion Reiniciar, Luz Estela Ponte, accused government intelligence agency DAS of “arbitrary detention, repeated threats, and the permanent holding of intelligence files” against human rights groups.
The director of Colombia’s Presidential Human Rights Program, Carlos Franco, rejected the accusations of judicial impunity, asserting the independence and competence of the Colombian prosecution.
The IACHR expressed “deep concern” about the climate of impunity in the country, and condemned the murder on Saturday of Colombian journalist Clodomiro Castilla Ospino.
The IACHR is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States, which investigates human rights abuses in member states and publishes country reports.
There are ongoing concerns about the Justice and Peace process, which has been accused to taking too long to convict former paramilitaries for crimes against humanity, and of giving overly lenient sentences.