The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia is against Colombian President Alvaro Uribe‘s idea to protect members of the military from civil prosecution and asked Uribe to “respect the sentence” of a colonel found guilty of the forced disappearance of eleven civilians.
Following the sentence of a retired army colonel to 30 years in jail for the forced disappearance of eleven civilians during the 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice, Uribe proposed the creation of legislation that protects members of Colombia’s armed forces from civil prosecution also in the case of human rights violations.
But while Uribe expressed to be worried about the sentence of retired colonel Alfonso Plazas Vega, “from abroad, it is seen positively and as a sign of an independent justice,” representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Christian Salazar, told newspaper El Tiempo.
The UN-official expressed to be against legislation to protect the military from civil justice in the case of human rights violations and condemned Uribe’s statement that the conviction would negatively affect the moral of the members of the armed forces.
“Colombia over the past few years has introduced important reforms of its Armed Forces, its national policies towards human rights and international humanitarian law. I am worried that in this type of discussion this progress is forgotten and we can see a reversal,” Salazar said.
“One can say that human rights can never weaken the Armed Forces. On the contrary, the respect of human rights strengthens the legitimacy of the armed forces of any democratic state, also in Colombia,” the UN official continued.
Salazar asked the Colombian government to guarantee the safety of the judge who convicted Plazas Vega and has received death threats.
The retired colonel on Saturday had not yet been transfered to prison, but is staying in a military hospital.