Alot of blogs coming with what might seem like boring reporting. However, really, things are really starting to move here. Since coming to Bogota, I have been living in this world where things in Colombia, while bad in many ways for many people, are almost normal. I was getting to the point where my job seemed like any 9-5er and that life outside the office could be completely separate.
Now, Im feeling like the Human Rights community is getting caught up in this whirl wind. With the breaking of the Mapiripan and Las Pavas cases as well as the justice reform going through, the bubble I feel like I have been living in has kind of burst.
As I mentioned in the last post, the government no longer tries to mince words and is now very blatantly verbally attacking the human rights community, saying things like: "
This is very serious, it’s sad that situations like these, of crooks who can’t be called anything but corrupt, undermine the credibility of the Inter-American Human Rights Court,” said President Santos.
“What has happened weakens the credibility of a respected institution like the Court and the Inter-American human rights system. These are the big losers with the Mapiripán case,” added Vice-President Angelino Garzón.
“If lawyers are involved, it’s even more serious. It is wrong that there exists a minority of lawyers dedicated to these types of activities,” said Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra."
Such attacks would be understandable if they were warranted, however, as I have mentioned before, in the case of Mapiripan, the Colombian government knew about, and signed off on, all of the testimonies and evidence that today they are claiming human rights lawyers had falsified.
Read this report by Adam Isaacsson, a long time blogger on Colombian issues. It gives a good sense about how things, including the Mapiripan case, are tying into larger, more sinister movements occurring.
For those who dont have time to read it, basically Adam talks about how the conservative parties and the president are trying to push through a reform to the justice system that would allow the Military to try its own soldiers for human rights crimes they commit.
This push, he asserts, is an attempt to appease a disgruntled military which, according to some officials is getting so demoralized by that fact that the Constitutional Court is finally convincing high level officials for human rights crimes, that they are no longer able to fight effectively. It is further argued that if the military has to constantly worry about the justice system looking overt heir solider, they cant do their job, especially given that such justice system doesn't understand life in combat.
However, as Adam states, "... the military is not pushing for civilian judges and prosecutors with special training for dealing with combat cases. Instead, they are pushing for the right to try their own personnel even in cases, like “false positives,” which do not involve combat."
Later on, he points out that, "If these claims of “brazos caídos” and “demotivation” are true, they reflect very badly on Colombia’s armed forces. The message is that if they must fight according to internationally recognized human rights standards, then they will not fight. This poisonous message would fly in the face of claims – often made by U.S. officials, citing it as a result of U.S. aid – that the Colombian military’s human rights performance is greatly improved."
Take a look at it and get a good idea of why things feel so tense these days.
Next post are some great pictures from Thanksgiving and vacation.