(Translated by Eunice Gibson, a CSN volunteer translator)
The Extradited Paramilitary Commanders and
The “Parapoliticos” Are Under the Scrutiny of the Court
The Court’s Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno has asked how Colombia will assure that those most responsible for crimes against human rights, including the extradited paramilitary leaders, political leaders and members of Congress, will be brought to justice.
A letter from the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the Colombian government, obtained exclusively by EL NUEVO SIGLO, sets forth a series of interrogatories that have caused a commotion in the highest courts and in the Executive branch.
In June of this year, the Court’s special prosecutor, Luis Moreno, send the Colombian Ambassador in The Hague, Francisco José Lloreda, a communication that this publication is revealing today, in which he notes that “as you are aware, my office is analyzing the situation in Colombia, in the light of the Statute of Rome, which Colombia has ratified.”
The message grew out of the infelicitous extradition of the paramilitary commanders last May. Because of that, Prosecutor Moreno inquires of the Colombian government: “How will Colombia insure that those most responsible for crimes that are within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, including those of political leaders and members of Congress, presumably involved with the demobilized groups, will be brought to justice? In particular, I would like to know if the investigations undertaken to date indicate the commission of acts penalized under the Statute of Rome, and if the extradition of the paramilitary leaders will present any obstacle to the effective investigation of those political leaders.
If indeed Moreno warns that “up to now, there has been no decision in relation to the opening of an investigation”, he makes clear that “the situation continues to be analyzed by my office.”
Never, up to now, has a request as clear and precise been presented to the Colombian government by officials speaking for the International Criminal Court, for the purpose of investigating whether it is complying with the provisions of the International Criminal Statute signed by Bogotá six years ago.
As is well known, the Statute provides a penalty for violations of International Human Rights, including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
Colombia maintains a reservation of eight years for war crimes, which the Uribe government announced that it would eliminate, but never did so; the crimes against humanity are in full effect and can be investigated by the Court at any moment.
As is also well known the jurisdiction of the Court is alternative or substitute for the internal judicial system. Nevertheless, it has full authority to intervene when it can be shown that there is “pretended justice” or that it is evident that the signatory state has not carried out the investigations and corresponding punishment for violations of International Human Rights.
When Prosecutor Moreno visited Colombia in 2007, he pointed out a clear difference between war crimes and crimes against humanity, even though in a public interview, he made clear that on many occasions there is a combination of the two.
Request for information
At the same time, it is understood that the Court’s investigations are not retroactive, but begin with the record of the signing of the Treaty.
“In October 2007 – states the Prosecutor – I had the opportunity to visit Colombia, with the purpose of analyzing the pending criminal proceedings against those most responsible for crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of this Court. As we agreed in our conversation of last May 30, it is important that the Prosecutor’s Office receive information on these cases.”
Although, since receiving the request by Prosecutor Moreno, the Government has continued to insist that the extradited paramilitary commanders continue to be covered by the Justice and Peace Law, the Colombian Supreme Court of Justice has asked the Executive Department to clarify the situation. In fact, in a new announcement released yesterday, the high Court repeated its statement that the disconnection of the paramilitary commanders from the extraordinary court system will be decided by the judicial branch and not by the executive.
Meanwhile, the Uribe government has asked that the penalties for the extradited paramilitary commanders be increased. Nevertheless, in the United States they can only be prosecuted for drug trafficking crimes. Up to now, they cannot be prosecuted in the United States for their crimes against international human rights.
At the time that the paramilitary commanders were extradited, it was said that the United States would allow investigation of those crimes by Colombian prosecutors and judges. Up to now, there has not been one such proceeding; meanwhile it is known that they are negotiating to reduce their sentences for illegal drug trafficking.
It has not been made clear, then, whether international criminal jurisdiction will be possible.
As is well known, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that have not signed the Statute of Rome, as they consider it to be counter to their doctrines on multilateral justice. Colombia, for its part, is a signatory and is obliged to comply with its protocols and agreements.
The following is the letter send by Prosecutor Moreno to the Colombian Ambassador in The Hague, Francisco José Lloreda:
Hon. Francisco José Lloreda
Ambassador of Colombia
Groot Hertoginnelaan 14
2517 EG, The Hague
I have the pleasure to address you in my capacity as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. As you are aware, my office is analyzing the Colombian situation in light of the Statute of Rome, ratified by Colombia.
In October 2007, I had the opportunity to visit Colombia, with the purpose of analyzing the pending criminal proceedings against those most responsible for crimes that are under the jurisdiction of this Court. As we agreed in our conversation of May 30, it is important for the Prosecutor’s Office to receive information about these cases.
In addition, we have been informed of the extradition of several paramilitary leaders to the United States on May 13, and, the week before, of Carlos Mario Jiménez, alias Macaco.
In mentioning this information, I am aware of the Colombian Government’s response sent on May 16, 2008 to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. I think you also for the information provided informally on the meeting between the Prosecutor General of Colombia and his United States counterpart.
In light of the aforementioned events and of the communications we have received, I would be very grateful if, as a contribution to my efforts, you would be able to furnish the following information:
How will Colombia insure that those most responsible for crimes that would be under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, including those of political leaders and of members of Congress presumed to be connected to the demobilized groups, will be brought to justice? In particular, I would like to know if the investigations carried out up to now indicate the commission of acts penalized under the Statute of Rome and if the extradition of the paramilitary leaders presents any obstacle to the effective investigation of the aforementioned political leaders.
Permit me to make clear that, as of today, no decision has been made in relation to the opening of an investigation. The situation continues to be analyzed by my Office.
If you have any question with respect to this communication, I ask that you direct it to Paul Seils, Chief of Situation Analysis in the office of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
I await your response and any additional information that the Colombian Government may consider appropriate to furnish.
I take this opportunity to express to you my highest esteem.
Luis Moreno Ocampo
Asociación ‘América Latina Publicaciones’