The International Office for Human Rights Action on Colombia

LAW ON INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE – Shield for intelligence activities and absence of guarantees of non-repetition

The scandal of illegal intelligence activities by the DAS lead to its elimination and to the reform of Law on intelligence. This document presents an analysis of the new Law and of the measures adopted.

Almost all former DAS employees were transferred to other State institutions – mainly the Attorney General’s Office, the police force and the new National Protection Unit in charge of protecting defenders, trade unionists, journalists, etc. – without investigation of or sanctions for the crimes that they may have committed while working in the DAS.

Forced disappearance in Colombia – Persistence of and impunity for this extremely serious crime

In the month of January 2013 alone, according to the Institute of Legal Medicine, 474 additional cases of disappearance were reported. Of these, many could be enforced disappearances. Document of analysis and recommendations on this issue.

In its November 2012 report, the Office of the ICC Prosecutor determined that “there is a reasonable basis to believe that, since November 1, 2002”, disappearances constituting crimes against humanity have been committed by Colombian State organs.

The European Parliament urges the Colombian government and the FARC to guarantee lasting peace

Letter to the protagonists of the peace talks in Havana insists on the importance of civil society participation and call for the reform to military jurisdiction to be withdrawn.

Brussels, 18 December 2012. 20 Members of the European Parliament have sent a letter today to the Colombian government and the FARC in which they “warmly greet the efforts of the Colombian government and the FARC to begin dialogues to seek an end to the armed conflict” which they describe as a “historic moment” for Colombia. They urge both parties to cease fire – noting the recent declaration made by FARC – and remind them of their duty to respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

Extension of military jurisdiction – Serious concerns over constitutional reform of the military criminal justice process

The government of President Santos has been pushing for a constitutional amendment that seeks to expand military criminal jurisdiction, that is about to be approved.

As highlighted by eleven UN human rights experts on 22 October 2012, “should this reform be approved, it could seriously undermine the administration of justice for cases of alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including serious crimes, by military or police forces (Fuerza Pública)”. In the conclusions of its 146 regular session of 16 November 2012, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights “call(ed) to mind that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has established that the State has the obligation to provide effective judicial recourse to victims of human rights violations, and the Commission believes that such recourse, in all cases, is through the regular criminal jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not the violations being prosecuted were committed by members of the military”.