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| 6/23/2009 12:00:00 AM

Colombia: New law strengthens impunity for human rights abusers

Jun 23 -- The right to truth, justice and reparation for countless victims of human rights violations committed during Colombia's long-running armed conflict has again been gravely undermined following Congressional approval of a law which will grant de factoamnesties to 19,000 supposedly demobilized rank-and-file paramilitaries, many of whom are responsible for serious human rights violations, including killings, enforced disappearances and torture.

The law, approved by Congress on 18 June, extends the so-called "Principle of Opportunity"to rank-and-file paramilitaries. The Principle of Opportunity was established under Law 906 of 2004 to allow the Attorney General to suspend, interrupt or abandon any criminal investigation if it is considered "convenient" to do so, for example if the defendant collaborates by providing information which could prevent further crimes from being committed.

Under the new law, criminal investigations into thousands of paramilitaries will be suspended or abandoned if the individuals concerned are deemed to have collaborated in efforts to dismantle the groups to which they belonged. Rank-and-file members of guerrilla groups, many of whom are also responsible for human rights abuses, already benefit from similar amnesties through existing legislation. Some third parties who may have aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in human rights violations committed by paramilitaries, including politicians and drugs traffickers, might also benefit from this new law.
 
Read more here.
 
 
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