Ex-paramilitaries call for demobilization reform
In a letter addressed to Organization of American States head Jose Miguel Insulza, a committee of jailed paramilitaries call for "urgent" reform to Colombia's Justice and Peace law, claiming that the current demobilization process is ineffective.
The letter, written by members of demobilized paramilitary organization the AUC from a Bogota jail,states that the 2005 legislation must be reformed in order "to offer legal certainties to the accused, guarantees of satisfaction and reparation to the victims, and knowledge of the truth to Colombia and the world."
The paramilitaries argue that the law must be amended "urgently, so that it doesn't become sterilized in an endless labyrinth without end, in which it becomes impossible to achieveobjectives."
The Justice and Peace process offers paramilitaries reduced sentences in return for their demobilization, complete confession of their crimes, participation in testimonial tribunals, and the compensation of their victims.
The program has been criticized for taking too long to convict paramilitaries, with the first jail sentence handed down in June 2010, nearly five years after theprocess began.
Paramilitary leaders extradited to the U.S. have complained that their incarceration abroad has stopped them providing testimony and reparation to victims. This led Colombia to amend its extradition treaty with the U.S. so that demobilized paramilitaries cannot be extradited until they have adequately complied with the reparation process.
Former minister tries to avoid briberyinvestigation
Former Interior Minister Sabas Pretelt de la Vega fruitlessly tried to block a criminal investigation against him over the alleged bribery of congressmen to secure the 2006 re-election of then-President Alvaro Uribe.
Pretelt de la Vega petitioned the Prosecutor General's Office, claiming that the investigation against him by deputy Prosecutor General Fernando Pareja isunconstitutional and must be carried out by Prosecutor General Guillermo Mendoza personally.
The former minister cited article 235 of the constitution, which says the Supreme Court can try "following charges brought by the Prosecutor General."
Pretelt de la Vega said he doubted his rights "as a citizen who served his country as minister" are guaranteed.
According to the former official, "you have to shootthe minister who pushed through Uribe's re-election quite neatly."
Colombia's Inspector General's Office barred Pretelt de la Vega from holding public office for twelve years, on the grounds that the ex-minister had bribed congressmen Yidis Medina and Teodolindo Avendaño in 2004 to secure a majority in Congress to approve a constitutional change allowing Uribe to run for a second term in the 2006elections.
The Prosecutor General's Office denied Pretelt de la Vega's petition and will continue the criminal investigation into the bribe, for which Medina was already convicted.
Red Cross to mediate Medellin gang warfare
For the first time in Colombia's history, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will intervene to try to stem the ongoing urban violenceplaguing Medellin's poorest suburbs. The NGO will seek a dialogue with members of criminal organizations involved in the bloody gang warfare.
ICRC spokesman Carlos Rios told Caracol Radio that the international NGO has met with local authorities and a consensus has been reached regarding a plan of action, which will focus on providing humanitarian aid to the Medellin inhabitants affected by the violence,particularly in the Comuna 13 area, whose San Javier suburb has seen some of the worst of the recent violence.
Rios said the first step will to be to hold a series of conferences in schools with teachers and students to discuss humanitarian principles and the consequences of violence. The ICRC will also provide health services, particularly in the field of sexual violence, which is an issue of concern...
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