One day after yet another of his party’s Congressmen arrest for
alleged ties to paramilitary death squads, Partido de la U leader Luis
Carlos Restrepo wants to discuss granting parliamentary immunity to
members of Congress.
In a meeting with President Alvaro Uribe Restrepo said members of
Congress feel they are not protected and that is why it is necessary to
“publicly open the debate about creating a constitutional reform and to
take up this important topic on parliamentary immunity again.”
This meeting with Uribe comes one day after the Supreme Court called for Partido de la U member Senator Zulema Jattin’s arrest.
Restrepo stressed the importance of considering the consequences of
making the decision to arrest Congressmen. He said the outcome has great
impact and can drastically change the regional and national political
map of Colombia.
Former Senator Jaime Castro (Liberal Party) explained that parliamentary immunity means
no Congressperson can be judicially processed or arrested without prior
consent from his or her chamber. Parliamentary immunity ruled in
Colombia until 1991, when it was changed to the current system that
guarantees a trial for members of Congress in the Supreme Court, the highest of judicial bodies in the country.
Castro criticized Restrepo for wanting to go back to the old system and
called his proposal a “political joke.”
More than seventy Congressmen, most of them from the governing coalition of President Alvaro Uribe, are criminally investigated for allegedly receiving the support of paramilitary groups to secure their election in past congressional elections.