Friday, June 26, 2015

New Human Rights Watch Report on extra-judicial killings and military justice in Colombia

Human Rights Watch has just released a report titled On Their Watch: Evidence of Senior Officers' Responsibility for False Positive Killings in Colombia. Pages 77-84 deal specifically with the military justice system, and make for disturbing reading. Excerpt:
There are several reasons why military jurisdiction in such cases poses a major obstacle to justice. These include the military justice system’s record of impunity in human rights cases, its failure to take basic steps to investigate false positives when most cases were under its jurisdiction, and recordings of [Lt. Col. (ret)] González del Río’s phone conversations with a military judge and a man who appears to be a colonel linked to a high-level office in the military justice system, both of whom offer to help González del Río, further highlighting the system’s lack of independence and credibility.

The following sub-sections discuss these problems. All of them also made it particularly alarming that between 2011 and 2015, the Colombian government sought to approve legislation to expand military jurisdiction, which would have led false positive cases to be transferred from civilian prosecutors back to military courts. To its credit, in April 2015, the government removed the most problematic language from its most recent proposed constitutional amendment that had threatened to broaden military jurisdiction and cause such a transfer. [Footnotes omitted.]
The HRW report includes excerpts from transcripts of authorized wiretaps.

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