US Congressman Protests Removal of Judges Investigating Trade Union Killings

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 26 January 2008

A US Congressman has written to President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia asking why all three judges assigned to a panel tasked with handling investigations into thousands of assassinations of trade unionists have been suspended. Congressman George Miller, also protests at the unexplained removal or one of the three judges from the panel despite his "excellent work" and says that he fears that these latest measures will lead to continuing impunity.

The Democrat Congressman from California, who chairs the Education and Labour Committee in the US House of Representatives met with Judge Jose Nirio Sanchez just days before he was removed from the panel. The suspension of the entire judicial team investigating the trade union killings has, according to Miller, forced the judges to cancel hearings in high profile cases that had been scheduled for January.

"I am concerned about the decision to remove this highly respected judge and to temporarily suspend the entire panel," said Miller in his January 25th letter to the Colombian president. "At a minimum, these actions could have the effect of slowing the panel's work,"

In his letter the Congressman also talks of the "extensive history and institutional nature of killings of labour leaders in Colombia" and said that the delays caused to the panel's work could cause further impunity. "If these prosecutions and adjudications are not effective and sustainable, then impunity will continue and that is unacceptable," said Miller.

For a full copy of the letter see http://edlabor.house.gov/correspondence/20080125GMUribeLetter.pdf



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