There are numerous former members of the AUC in custody in the United States, and many are refusing to participate in the Justice and Peace program and testify against former associates without guarantees of their families’ safety. Salvatore Mancuso in particular has ceased his cooperation with authorities until the safety of his relatives is ensured.
“The family of Salvatore Mancuso had protection but it was withdrawn,” Vargas Lleras said. “The ministry has no authority for this security because of the decree that limits the protection it can provide,” Vargas Lleras said.
“I have sent a communication to the Supreme Court indicating that if providing this protection will facilitate Mancuso’s testimony the police are responsible for doing it,” he said.
Colombia on Thursday appointed Supreme Court Judge Ivan Velasquez to oversee the testimony of paramilitaries in U.S. jails, to ensure that judicial processes involving the extradited paramilitaries move forward and that the Colombian justice system has full access to those in custody.
Over 1,400 Colombians have been extradited since the process was appoved in 1984, including more than 12 leaders of paramilitary coalition the AUC since 2006.
The extradition of these paramilitary leaders has caused much controversy, with critics arguing that jailing the men in the U.S. on drug charges makes it more difficult to extract testimony from them on human rights abuses committed in Colombia.