The Impunity Law (Colombia)

The Colombian media reported that the New York Times editorial page criticized Colombia’s recently passed ‘impunity for paramilitaries’ law.


The Colombian media reported that the New York Times editorial page criticized Colombia’s recently passed ‘impunity for paramilitaries’ law.

In the NYT’s words: “Colombia has just passed a law to demobilize paramilitary fighters that the government calls the “Justice and Peace Law.” It should be called the “Impunity for Mass Murderers, Terrorists and Major Cocaine Traffickers Law.”… The new law, which reflects the paramilitaries’ considerable political power, will block the extradition of paramilitary leaders wanted for trafficking to the United States and allow them to continue their drug dealing, extortion, land theft and other criminal activities undisturbed. Even those responsible for the most heinous crimes against humanity may go free because of strict time limits for prosecutions. The few who are convicted will likely serve sentences of only 22 months.”

A few days ago I heard (second- or maybe third-hand) about that session in Colombian Congress where that law was passed. The debate got very heated and abusive, and the opposition walked out. Then the majority passed the legislation entirely unopposed.

I suppose this law is the crown jewel of Colombian President Uribe’s years-long negotiation with itself, set in motion years ago (I wrote about it then).

Of course, while NYT is right about the legislation, it misses the reason why the US would allow such a bill. The US is allowing Uribe to pass the bill as a reward to his paramilitary constituency for its years of service destroying the social movements and displacing the peasantry. And as Uribe is rewarding the paras, so the US is rewarding Uribe. And yet, impunity is a fragile thing, and Uribe himself has to know this.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.