Friday, July 11, 2014

Human Rights Watch blasts proposed Colombian military justice legislation

Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón strongly criticizing proposed legislation to alter that nation's military justice system. The measure would give military courts jurisdiction over cases in which soldiers commit human rights violations against civilians. According to this article in Colombia Reports:
HRW stated in the letter that there have been false positive cases correctly punished by civilian courts, but not under military courts.
“The Colombian government has claimed it is necessary to expand the scope of the military justice system because civilian prosecutors have baselessly prosecuted soldiers for legitimately killing guerrillas in combat. However, the government has failed to provide a single example of such unfounded prosecutions, despite multiple requests by Human Rights Watch,” claimed [HRW's José Miguel] Vivanco.
The Colombian Supreme Court shot down a similar bill in 2013 for procedural reasons. The Court’s 5-4 ruling prevented a military justice reform amendment to Colombia’s Constitution that would have allowed military courts to try their own people for all but seven crimes that constitute crimes against humanity. The seven would have been the only crimes tried in civilian court.

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