You Can’t Evade Justice with a Plebiscite in the Ballot Box

June 30. 2008
( Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

The attacks by President Álvaro Uribe Vélez against the Supreme Court of Justice and his decision to call the Congress of the Republic into session in order for them to process as quickly as possible a bill that would once again authorize his reelection constitute an affront to democracy, an insult to the rules that govern a system of law and a clear abuse of power. These decisions are intended to impede the action of constitutional controls to make clear the legislative action that gave rise to reelection, and that at the same time are intended to be an obstacle to judicial procedures which ought to be judging the crimes that were behind their questionable approval, they are extremely serious acts, which break down judicial order and depart from the basic rules of a democracy.

The Supreme Court of Justice has proved the commission of criminal acts originating from executive gifts, which twisted the will of those who cast the decisive votes for the approval of the constitutional reform that allowed reelection. That’s why they have ordered the Attorney General to investigate all the ministries and co-workers of the president involved in these acts and ordered the Constitutional Court to reexamine the validity of the legislative act approved with these antecedents. This cannot be a reason for the President of the Republic to publicly slander the Supreme Court of Justice and attack it for abusing its power and applying selective and partial justice, and its magistrates for lending themselves to the trap of terrorism, this last argument one with which from the beginning of this government they have attacked human rights defenders, those who exercise political opposition, and those who have had to carry out judicial or control functions that are not in agreement with the criteria and interests of the president.

The opposition of the President of the Republic to the approval of a political reform, which would have purified a Congress that has been serious questioned because of the connection of a significant percentage of its members, mostly in the parties that supported the reelection of the President, to paramilitary groups that sowed terror among the citizenry in order to impose his election, cannot be taken advantage of now by the President to order Congress and its majorities that are under question to approve the acts that would lead to another reelection. That constitutes a mockery of judicial and constitutional procedures and threatens democratic rule.

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordinating Group condemns the attacks by the President of the Republic on judicial order and democratic procedures. It rejects his attacks on the Supreme Court of Justice, and demands that the President respect its magistrates and comply strictly with its decisions and judicial procedures, without regard to the rank or authority of whoever may have, through their illicit activities, threatened the popular sovereignty expressed in a sacrosanct constitutional order. We ask the Attorney General to continue with the investigations in order to bring to justice all those responsible for these crimes, and we demand that the constitutional control process about the validity of the legislative reelection act under question be continued.

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordinating Group also calls upon the Congress of the Republic not to continue desinstitutionalizing even more the precarious bases of our democracy by accepting this kind of pressure from the executive branch, and we request that they refuse to move forward with a reform process which is intended to undermine the recognition of the integrity of the magistrates and the legitimacy of the actions and decisions of the judicial system. In a state of law, neither the Congress nor the authorities are permitted to organize plebiscites in the ballot boxes every time they are affected by judicial decisions. The measures proposed by the President of the Republic assault the autonomy and independence of the justice system and threaten the viability of the principle of separation of powers, a basic guarantee needed for the respect for and reestablishment of human rights and fundamental liberties in any democracy.

Bogotá, June 27, 2008

Board of Directors of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordinating Group
(Mesa Ejecutiva de la Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos)

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordinating Group is a coalition of 199 Colombian organizations that work for the promotion, divulgation and defense of Human Rights.

Coordinating Group of Non-Governmental and Social Human Rights Organizations
(Cooridinación de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales y Sociales de Derechos Humanos)

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