POLITICS | 11/9/2010 12:00:00 AM
Uribe before court
Either as a witness or as a defendant, former president Alvaro Uribe’s name appears in several judicial processes in other countries. Although this lawsuits are unlikely to prosper, embarrassment is unavoidable.
Even if this episode doesn’t have any legal consequences for the former president in the future, it is still shameful. And it clearly shows that the constant struggle between Uribe and the NGOs will go on before many courts. In fact, it became known this week that a group of Georgetown students, who are also members of an organization called “Adios Uribe” (Goodbye Uribe), delivered a series of documents to the Department of Justice, in which Uribe is accused of human right violations. Even his very entrance to American territory is questioned by the group, which also have launched a permanent complaining and informative campaign against the former president.
But if in the United States there’s a lot of anti-Uribe propaganda, another group of NGOs are suing Uribe before European courts, where processes can eventually flourish. Although many human rights activists dream of seeing Uribe before the International Criminal Court, it is very unlikely that the latter will take the Colombian case. In some European countries’ courts it could be different, though.
In Spain there’s an ongoing judicial process since April 30. It is against Uribe, former DAS director Jorge Noguera and former Human Resource Director of that entity, Germain Villalba Chavez. The lawsuit is based on the research that’s being conducted by the Colombian Attorney General about the illegal wiretappings by the DAS. The entity might have followed the footsteps of several human right defenders in Spain and other European countries. On several occasions, the Spanish justice system has relied on universal jurisdiction for international crimes and thus it’s been able to summon foreigners before justice. It happened that way with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, in the case of secret CIA flights, and with human rights violations in Guatemala and El Salvador.
However, expert Alejandro Valencia Villa points out that, back in 2009, international jurisdiction was limited to those cases in which either the author was in Spain or those that involved Spanish citizens. Well, the victims claim to have been followed illegally in Spanish territory, and there is at least one Spanish woman involved. Doubts around the validity of these claims are based on the fact that wiretappings haven’t been classified as international crimes. However, it is unknown whether local courts will admit the claims and if they will declare themselves qualified to work on them, which hasn’t happened so far. The Madrid case is just one of several lawsuits that are in the process of being presented.
Lawyer Luis Guillermo Perez, Director at the International Federation of Human Rights, confirmed that he will present another lawsuit before Brussels’ courts and that he will encourage the European Parliament to appoint a special commission that investigates the traces made against some members of the organ by the DAS, as part of a discrediting campaign.
And although the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) doesn’t involve Uribe directly, but the Colombian state as a whole, it became known this week that this entity accepted the lawsuit made by the Ecuadorian General Prosecutors Office against Colombia for the death of Franklin Aisalla in the bombing at Raul Reyes’ camp in Ecuador. According to the Ecuadorian authorities, it’s likely that Aisalla didn’t die as a consequence of the bombing but, instead, would have been executed subsequently. It is historic that the IACHR has accepted the case, given that it’s the first lawsuit between states in the 50 years of inter-American system. This is worsened by the fact that the claims the Comission accepts often end up at the Inter-American Court, whose jurisdiction is mandatory for Colombia, and where the case could meet its end with a conviction against the accused.
Ecuadorian courts have formally related the whole Colombian military command as well as the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, with Raul Reyes’ camp bombing in that country. Although it hasn’t been done yet, everyone knows that sooner or later former President Álvaro Uribe will also be connected to these process and will eventually be called by an Ecuadorian court.
Before such a picture, Uribe’s lawyers have a lot of work ahead. And although many of these claims are more propagandistic than realistic, the former president’s image is increasingly controversial abroad.