Sunday, December 7, 2014

Rodrigo Uprimny on pending Colombian legislation

Dr. Rodrigo Uprimny Yepes
Constitutional law scholar Rodrigo Uprimny, who directs the Center for Law, Justice and Society, has written this op-ed for El Espectador. He warns that the pending military justice reform bill will lead to impunity in the case of extrajudicial executions (known as "false positives") because Colombian law does not include a crime of extrajudicial execution. He argues:
A military court may therefore demand that a false positive case be transferred to the military justice justice on the basis that the offense was committed in the course of a military operation and is not an "extrajudicial execution" but rather, an "aggravated murder" or "murder of protected persons." And the Disciplinary Chamber of the Judicial Council, which decides these matters and is far from the most respected court in Colombia, could rule in favor of the military.
Some readers might think that my argument is exaggerated. But it is not. In 2003, while the previous reform of the military justice system was in force, which was disapproved on procedural grounds by the Constitutional Court and on this point was nearly identical with the present bill, many cases of false positives that were in the ordinary courts were transferred to the military justice system by the Superior Council of the Judiciary, as shown by Human Rights Watch and the Colombia office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The bill to expand military justice is a grave error, as many have tried to warn in the past, so it must be discarded. In any case, at least there should be a serious effort to ensure that no false positives are tried by the military courts, for which it would be sufficient that the bill provides that those courts will not try cases of "aggravated homicide" or "murder of protected persons." Why then do the Government and Congress refuse even to make this minor change? [Rough Google translation]

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