British Lawyers Denounce Impunity in Colombia, Slam Colombian Regime for Lack of Action

Justice For Colombia News | on: Thursday, 7 May 2009

A delegation of over 40 British lawyers that visited Colombia in 2008 yesterday released a detailed report of their visit including their finding that over 400 Colombian lawyers had been assassinated but that not a single person had been prosecuted for any of the killings. The lawyers also said that the Colombian authorities "made specific promises to tackle human rights abuses while we were there, only to ignore them after we had gone" and complained that since their return Colombian officials have ignored their letters and failed to implement any of the steps to improve the situation that were promised.

The delegation, which was supported by the Law Society of England and Wales, also outline in the new report a catalogue of threats, assaults, disappearances and killings of human rights lawyers in the country and the failure of the Colombian authorities to investigate. The fact that 2,700 trade unionists have been assassinated is also mentioned in the report as are several cases of Government interference in the independence of the judiciary and the "impunity provided by the State to those who infringe human rights".

However, in remarks sure to anger the Colombian regime, the report also alleges that a senior government official, Dr Carlos Franco, the Director of the Presidential Human Rights Programme, simply ignored promises made to the delegation whilst they were in Colombia.

"Since our return we have written to Dr Franco on a number of occasions about the pledges he gave to us" says the report. "He has failed to reply to any of our letters. Similarly he has failed to respond to letters we have sent to him about threats against or apparent Government harassment of human rights defenders. One of our members on a recent visit to Colombia raised this matter in a meeting with President Uribe but as this report goes to press we have still not received any response and, as far as we know, none of the steps promised by Dr Franco have been taken."

The report went on to conclude that "The Colombian Government made specific promises to tackle human rights abuses while we were there, only to ignore them after we had gone" and adds that international pressure is vital to persuade the Colombian authorities "to adhere to international standards of human rights and the rule of law."

Read the full report of the delegation here and an article about the report launch in the Law Society Gazette here.

See also: Ongoing Attacks Against Colombian Lawyers, Lawyers Criticise Colombia and Haldane Society: Colombian Government Demonising Opposition

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