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| 12/12/2008 12:00:00 AM

Colombia: Hostage-takers must be investigated and tried

Dec 12 -- There must be no amnesties or pre-trial pardons for those who have committed serious human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), Amnesty International said today following remarks yesterday by Colombian President Álvaro Uribe in which he offered freedom and financial rewards to members of guerrilla groups who hand over hostages under their control.

Hostage-taking in the context of an armed conflict is a violation of IHL and a war crime. Under international law, war crimes and other crimes under international law, such as crimes against humanity and genocide, are not subject to amnesties or similar provisions.

All those reasonably suspected of having committed serious human rights abuses and violations of IHL must be brought to justice in legal proceedings that meet international standards on fair trials.

President Uribe argued that rewarding members of guerrilla groups in this way would not imply amnesties or pardons but was simply a "humanitarian exchange". Talk about a "humanitarian exchange", involving the exchange of guerrilla prisoners held by the Colombian authorities for hostages held by guerrilla groups, has dominated political debate in Colombia for several years.
 
If you want to read the full public statement, just click here.

 
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EDICIÓN 1855

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