Families of victims of terrorist acts carried our by drug cartels in the 80s and 90s want to be included in Colombia’s Victims Law, reported newspaper El Tiempo on Thursday.
When the Colombian justice system declared 21 cases from that era to be “crimes against humanity” three yars ago, the families of victims of the Medellin and Cali cartels expected justice to be brought to the victims of the downed Avianca flight HK1803 and the bomb at DAS headquarters would also be brought to justice.
However the Victims Law enacted on June 10, 2011 includes an article only offering compensation to the victims of events in the “context of armed conflict.” According to victims’ representatives this only includes the victims of paramilitary and guerrilla violence and not the victims of drug cartels.
Frederico Arrellano, son of one of the 107 victims on the Avianca flight and leader of the Colombia con Memoria foundation for the victims of drug trafficking said the law has an “unacceptable discrimination.”
“President [Juan Manuel] Santos said the law would not have distinctions, that it would shelter all the victims indistinct of who perpetuated the crime. Unfortunately it is not like that,” said Arrellano.
More than 20 cases attributed to the Medellin Cartel have been passed over by the victims law, including the assassination of justice minister Rodrigo Lara in 1984, which isn’t covered because the law only takes effect from 1985.
“We cant forget the narco-traffickers have been the fuel that has given the momentum to the war, even life. To forget the victims of drug trafficking is an unscrupulous discrimination,” said Arrellano.
After the law was enacted the victims foundation demanded that article 3 be changed declaring it was unconstitutional and violated a constitutional right to equality. This claim was rejected by the courtwhich rejected it a second time on appeal.
Senator Juan Fernando Cristo said the law is being interpreted the wrong way. “The definition is sufficient to permit them to be recognized as victims, it is a general law that covers all the victims of the conflict in Colombia, including those of narco-terrorism; the victims of the Avianca flight; the officials; the judges that sacrificed their lives to defend this country from narco-terrorism. They are clearly victims of armed conflict,” said Cristo.
The families of narco-trafficking victims are intending to bring the issue to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and say they can prove that drug trafficking was responsible for some 250 bombs and had left up to 50,000 victims.