Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peace and Justice?

About five years ago, the Law of Peace and Justice was passed, intended primarily to aid in the demobilization of Colombia's vicious paramilitary armies and promote the confession of their crimes, while contributing to some degree of justice.

The paramilitaries have committed about the worst sorts of horrors you can imagine - mass chainsaw murders, feeding people to crocodiles, chopping people apart alive... Along the Colombian-Venezuelan border, people told me they found sacks of chopped up human flesh floating down the river, evidently placed there by paramilitaries to terrify those living downriver.

Five years on, this is what's happened: Only two convictions, which happened only this week, and those for only eight years each. These paramilitary leaders were likely guilty of mass murders, forced displacements, narcotrafficking, kidnappings, etc. But eight years is what someone can get for a simple drug deal in lots of countries.

(To the government's partial credit, however, about a dozen paramilitary leaders are in U.S. prisons, which is exactly where they planned not to be when they agreed to be tried using the law. However, these men were extradited because they'd allegedly continued committing crimes while in prison.)

Meanwhile, many say that the paramilitaries, who supposedly demobilized years ago in mass ceremonies actually continue operating in many regions.

What the Peace and Justice Law has accomplished, however, is to generate lots of confessions:

163.000 homicides
32.000 forced disappearances
66.000 forced displacements
3.500 children recruited
More than 800 kidnappings .... all of which shows how measly the punishments are.

This blog written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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