Justice and Peace Law and Decree 128

Justice & Peace Law and Decree 128

Since 2003, paramilitary groups, responsible for the vast majority of human rights violations in Colombia for over a decade, have been involved in a government-sponsored “demobilization” process. More than 25,000 paramilitaries have supposedly demobilized under a process which has been criticized by AI and other Colombian and international human rights groups, as well as by the OHCHR and the IACHR. The process is lacking in effective mechanisms for justice and in its inability to ensure that paramilitary members actually cease violent activities.

In fact, paramilitarism has not been dismantled, it has simply been “re-engineered.” Many demobilized combatants are being encouraged to join “civilian informer networks,” to provide military intelligence to the security forces, and to become “civic guards”. Since many areas of Colombia have now been wrested from guerrilla control, and paramilitary control established in many of these areas, they no longer see a need to have large numbers of heavily-armed uniformed paramilitaries.

However, evidence suggests that many paramilitary structures remain virtually intact and that paramilitaries continue to kill. Amnesty International continues to document human rights violations committed by paramilitary groups, sometimes operating under new names, and often in collusion with the security forces.

AI would welcome a demobilization process which would lead to the effective dismantling of paramilitarism and end the links between the security forces and paramilitaries. But the current demobilization process is unlikely to guarantee the effective dismantling of such structures. In fact, it is facilitating the re-emergence of paramilitarism and undermining the right of victims to truth, justice and reparation.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the law governing the demobilization of armed groups in Colombia is wholly inadequate. It threatens to guarantee the impunity of those responsible for heinous and widespread human rights atrocities, not only paramilitaries, but also those who have backed the paramilitary such as wealthy landowners, and government and military officials. Furthermore, the demobilization law may not rid the country of the scourge of illegal armed activity and human rights abuses against the civilian population. In fact, it may make the situation worse by:

  • Providing de facto amnesties for paramilitaries and guerrillas responsible for serious human rights abuses and violations;
  • Perpetuating impunity for human rights abusers and violators thereby undermining the rule of law in Colombia;
  • Failing to guarantee the effective dismantling of paramilitary structures by focusing solely on individual combatants;
  • Failing to expose those Colombian security forces, government officials, and private citizens who have supported and benefited from the activities of the paramilitary;
  • Failing to establish a full and independent judicial process to oversee the demobilization process;
  • Neglecting to respect the rights of victims of human rights violations and abuses to truth, justice and reparation.

The legislation was approved in 2005 with the aim of facilitating the supposed demobilization of army-backed paramilitaries. Yet on May 19, 2006, Colombia’s Constitutional Court declared many of the central tenets of the Justice and Peace Law unconstitutional. Today most paramilitaries who have demobilized have benefited from Decree 128 of 2003 under which members of illegal armed groups who are not under investigation for human rights offences receive de facto amnesties. It is precisely because of the endemic problem of impunity in Colombia that most paramilitaries and guerrillas, many of whom are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes under international law, have never been investigated, let alone been brought to justice for these offences. As such, almost all members of paramilitary groups have already benefited from Decree 128.

Decree 128 grants legal and economic benefits to members of armed groups who have demobilized. These benefits include “pardons, conditional suspension of the execution of a sentence, a cessation of procedure, a resolution of preclusion of the investigation or a resolution of dismissal”.

Amnesty International is concerned that the real aim of the Justice and Peace Law is not only to guarantee the impunity of paramilitaries implicated in human rights violations–including war crimes and crimes against humanity–by failing to ensure that they are subject to full and impartial judicial investigations, but also that their security force backers and others responsible for sponsoring their illegal activities will not be identified and held accountable.

Amnesty International calls on the Colombian government to take all the necessary measures to end impunity, break the links between paramilitaries and the security forces, and guarantee the safety of civilian sectors at particular risk. The Government of Colombia must ensure full and impartial investigations into violations of human rights and that those individuals and sectors responsible for supporting paramilitarism – militarily, politically and economically – are brought to justice. The Government should also reverse proposals which drag civilians further into the conflict and “recycle” paramilitaries, such as the civilian informer network and Decree 2767, which authorizes paid collaboration with the security forces.

Criminal gangs are led by former ‘paras': UN

Criminal gangs are led by former ‘paras': UN

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The international agency further claims in its annual report that sometimes these groups are allied with drug business FARC and ELN. He speaks of “collusion, tolerance and acquiescence of members of the security forces with these groups.” The Government responds.
In many parts of the country, UN noted “with great concern the expansion and increased activity and violence against civilians perpetrated by illegal armed groups in the demobilization process of paramilitary organizations.” Photo Week

A disturbing picture of violence in Colombia has the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner in Colombia in its annual report for 2009.

In that document, the international body recognizes some government efforts to improve the situation, but also shows concern about the rapes committed in the country, torture, disappearances, executions of civilians are presented as casualties in combat and retention of military violence of the FARC, ELN and paramilitary groups in some places. It also records the difficulty many people have access to justice, even in the process of justice and peace, while returning to denounce recruitment of children by armed groups.

For its part, the Government, in a 14-page documentsays that “the Colombian institutions take note of the challenges identified by the report and to overcome shortcomings.” It also appreciates that the report “makes a fair reflection of the efforts of various state institutions and society to achieve the full realization of human rights in Colombia.”

Among the many observations made by the UN, there is a precise description of a phenomenon of violence that the government frequently argue when it is mentioned, as is the reappearance of “illegal armed groups in the demobilization process of paramilitary organizations.”

In this regard, the report says that “in many parts of the country, the office in Colombia noted with great concern the expansion and increased activity and violence against civilians perpetrated by illegal armed groups in the demobilization process of paramilitary organizations.”

Among the events that troubled in 2009 to this international body massacres, killings, threats, displacement and sexual violence against people who have no involvement in the war in the country. “The attacks have been directed against those who oppose the demands of these groups have properties of interest are seen as collaborators or members of other groups, or are in a dispute with rival groups. Among the victims there are also many demobilized by adjustments of accounts or for refusing to join these groups, “says the UN.

On how to act, says in the document that some of these groups “operate in a similar way to the former paramilitary organizations, and engage in criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, land grabbing, prostitution and trafficking, as well as lawful activities, though sometimes irregular, such as lotteries and private security. “

These groups, according to the UN, are run by people who “were formerly middle of these organizations or military.”

“These groups sometimes make agreements among themselves or with fronts of the FARC-EP or the National Liberation Army (ELN) to facilitate illegal businesses, particularly drug trafficking,” said the world body, also noted last year “collusion , tolerance and acquiescence of members of the security forces with these groups, motivated primarily by corruption. “

According to the report, these groups are capable of exercising “organized violence”, “broad economic power”, “ability to corrupt officials and state institutions”, “links with local authorities and powers that be.”

The UN acknowledges that since the government have made efforts to counter these groups, but said “the challenge posed goes beyond ordinary crime. The fact that these groups operate in places where they played the old paramilitary groups, using its economic and political structures, reiterates the need to strengthen preventive mechanisms for populations at risk (especially for young people in urban and rural) and protect and care for those affected. “

The agency also referred to acts of violence committed by the FARC and the ELN and the constant disregard for the lives of people not involved in any armed group.

In the considerations that the Government was on the UN report, acknowledged the existence and the challenge posed by these groups that have emerged after the demobilization of the paramilitaries.

However, it considered inappropriate “that any crime is classified as neoparamilitarismo Colombia, the reissue of the paramilitaries or the continuity of these, such as stated”

The argument given is that “there is no uniformity in the establishment, purposes, methods and activities of these groups, it is possible to find military or quasi-military structures, mafia, murder for hire and diversity of purposes, extortion, land, retail trade of illicit drugs drug trafficking, prostitution, among others. This is not to classify all paramilitary organized criminal gang in Colombia, this does not deny the demands to punish those who violate the commitments of the demobilization process, or the intensity with which it is to fight crime. “

In response, the Government also referred to other human rights violations that the UN reported in its annual report.

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Yanukland

Yanukland

Yanukland

Kyiv Post

Ukraine is heading into times more precarious than even we imagined when the nation elected Viktor Yanukovych as president. Ukraine has entered an era in which what is wrong will become legal and what is right will be made illegal.

Ten months into the president’s first term of office, the nation’s courts and parliament have ceased functioning as independent checks on executive power.

Moreover, as ex-President Leonid Kuchma so aptly put it in a Feb. 7 conversation with U.S. Ambassador John F. Tefft, divulged this month by WikiLeaks: “The parties represented in the [Verkhovna] Rada compete to see who has the most MPs [members of parliament] with a criminal record.” It’s odd to hear such alarm bells from Kuchma, but sad, nonetheless, because lawmakers continue to enjoy undeserved legal immunity from prosecution.

As the Oct. 31 local elections showed, the nation is in danger of never having transparent and honest democratic contests again unless citizens fight for them. And how to fight? Even peaceful demonstrations are endangered, as the nation found out on Dec. 3 when police broke up the tent city protests on Independence Square in opposition to the original, draconian tax code floated by Yanukovych’s government.

We have a neutered news media, such as Inter, the national TV station controlled by Security Service of Ukraine chief Valeriy Khoroshkovsky, who arrogantly fails to acknowledge the huge conflicts in his official and private roles.

But the ultimate prize for cynicism this week went to Dmytro Firtash, the shady billionaire gas trader and industrial baron who wouldn’t even disclose his co-ownership in RosUkrEnergo until 2006 – two years into its existence. Firtash tried to portray Ukraine’s court-ordered return of 11 billion cubic meters of gas to RosUkrEnergo as a positive step for the nation. Widely seen as non-transparent, RosUkrEnergo operated as the exclusive gas intermediary between Ukraine and Russia from 2006-2008, until ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko wisely squeezed it out of the trade. The intermediary appeared to serve no other purpose other than to enrich the company’s owners by billions of dollars each year – and those who stood behind them – at the expense of the Ukrainian people and Russia’s Gazprom.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev himself has said there is no need for intermediaries between the two nations, while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin famously cited the intermediary arrangement as providing slush funds that enriched private individuals and favored politicians. Putin also talked in 2009 about corruption reaching the highest levels of the Ukrainian government.

But now RosUkrEnergo is back in business. All the while, the state-run Naftogaz monopoly’ which should be profitable – teeters at the edge of insolvency as the government jacks up utility gas prices for households.

Meanwhile, the Yanukovych team seems destined to privatize the nation’s remaining state assets in the same old way – untransparently and uncompetitively – in sham sales that amount to legalized theft by insiders, who are busy also writing tax breaks and import preferences into legislation.

This is going to be a long winter.

“Phallometric”–You Must Prove Your Homosexuality for Asylum

[Really scientific test–show the men heterosexual porn and check for signs of an erection.  Kind of reminds me of Mel Brooks’ “History of the World,” part 1.]

Беженцев, которые, прибывая в Чехию, утверждали, что в родных странах их преследуют за гомосексуализм, местные власти пытались проверить, подвергая особому тесту

Refugees who are arriving in the Czech Republic, claimed that in the home countries of their being prosecuted for homosexuality, the local authorities tried to check, putting a special test

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In the Czech refugees were subjected to humiliating tests on homosexuality

Refugees who are arriving in the Czech Republic, claimed that in the home countries of their being prosecuted for homosexuality, the local authorities tried to check, putting a special test, says the Austrian newspaper Die Standard .

The test consisted of the following: refugees demonstrated heterosexual porn, and the measured intensity of blood flow to the genitals of the subjects, the article says, the contents of the site which leads InoPressa.ru . If blood flow is intensifying – hence the subject when watching the movie felt sexual arousal. And if he was excited when watching porn, not designed for gay men – so it adheres to the normal sexual orientation, and only stipulates yourself to get refugee status and right of abode in a European country, reasoned authority.

According to the publication, the European Agency for Fundamental Human Rights was categorically against such testing of refugees. In response to this on Thursday, a representative of the Czech Interior Ministry said that Phallometric tests are not carried out since the beginning of 2010.

Yet the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Czech Radek John tried to defend the approach used until recently his department. He said that if persons wishing to obtain refugee status, does not like fallometriya – let him go to another country where such testing is not conducted, and the petition for asylum there. And those who passed fallometriyu themselves were asked about this, or at least not objected to the trial, John said Radek.

This practice became known when a German court of Schleswig-Holstein refused to send back to the Czech Republic Iranians who sought political asylum in the Czech Republic, but then filed in Germany, after hearing their testimony about the enthusiasm of the Czech authorities fallometriey.

 

Balochistan wants centre to hand over control of FC

FC balochistan online 543 Balochistan wants centre to hand over control of FCFresh recruits parade during the passing out parade of the 50th Batch of FC Balochistan on Friday. – Online Photo

ISLAMABAD: Balochistan has demanded that the federal government should hand over control of the Frontier Constabulary to the provincial government to enable it to handle the law and order situation in the province in a more effective manner.

The demand was formally conveyed to President Asif Ali Zardari by Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi during a meeting at the Presidency on Friday.

The FC has been fighting outlaws and insurgents in some areas of Balochistan under the direct command of the Interior ministry.

Sources in the presidency said the Balochistan governor apprised the president of the security situation in the province and stressed that the problem would remain unresolved unless the command and control of FC was given to the provincial government.

President’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Governor Magsi and President Zardari discussed the law and order situation in Balochistan.

The president reiterated the government’s commitment to bring Balochistan on a par with other provinces in terms of development and to address grievances of the people of the province and their sense of deprivation.

The governor also briefed the president on several development projects in the province.

The present government has wrapped up a Rs10 billion project launched by Pervez Musharraf’s government for converting ‘B’ Area into ‘A’ Area to enforce policing all over the province.

A senior police official, who has held served at key posts in Balochistan, told Dawn that billions of rupees spent on the project had gone down the drain.

He is of the view that the Frontier Constabulary alone cannot handle the situation.

“If Frontier Constabulary can control only crimes it should be replaced with police in other provinces also,” the police official said.

Pakistan’s “The News” Admits To Fake Wiki Report On India

Pakistani newspapers apologise for publishing ‘fake’ anti-India WikiLeaks cables

From ANI

Islamabad, Dec 10: Leading Pakistani newspapers, which had published fake WikiLeaks cables attacking the Indian Army for false propaganda, have acknowledged

The Express Tribune published an apology over its fake report, “WikiLeaks: What US officials think about the Indian Army”, saying that “the story… was not authentic”, and it “deeply regrets publishing this story without due verification and apologises profusely for any inconvenience caused to our valued readers.”

The News said that the “story filed by a news agency about purported WikiLeaks cables disclosing India’s involvement in Balochistan and Waziristan, carried by The News, Daily Jang and many other Pakistani newspapers, has been widely criticised as not being accurate.”

“The story was released by the Islamabad-based Online news agency and was run by The News and Daily Jang with the confidence that it was a genuine report and must have been vetted before release. However, several inquiries suggest that this was not the case,” the paper added.

It said that when contacted, the owner of the agency, Mohsin Baig, and some of the editorial staff were “themselves unclear about the source of the story and said they would investigate the matter at their end.”

“On further inquiries, we learnt from our sources that the story was dubious and may have been planted,” The News conceded.

According to the fake reports, US diplomats had described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal, said that the Indian government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists, and also claimed that Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt and Balochistan.

“Enough evidence of Indian involvement in Waziristan, Balochistan,” read the front-page story in the News, while an almost identical story appeared in the Urdu-language Jang, Pakistan’s best selling daily.

The News had carried a report saying that a leaked cable from US Embassy in Islamabad disclosed that there were enough evidences of Indian involvement in Waziristan and other tribal areas of Pakistan as well as Balochistan.

An earlier cable described Indian Army involved in gross human rights violations in Kashmir and Lt Gen HS Panag, the then GOC-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army, was equated with General Milosevic of Bosnia “with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes,” reported The News.

It also said that another cable indicated “involvement of top Indian Army leadership in engaging Hindu extremist militants to carry out certain terror operations to keep Indian Muslims on the backfoot and to keep pressure on neighbouring Pakistan’s Army and intelligence agencies, particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence.”

Big Media’s Guilt in Gary Webb’s Death

Big Media’s Guilt in Gary Webb’s Death

By Robert Parry (A Special Report)

It’s been six years since I received the shocking news that journalist Gary Webb had committed suicide with his father’s pistol.

In the days after his Dec. 9, 2004, death, I was told that he had succumbed to a deep depression brought on by being blacklisted from his profession for a courageous series that he had written about the real-life consequences of a U.S. foreign policy that put Cold War priorities ahead of protecting Americans from the international drug trade.

Instead of rallying to his side when his series appeared in 1996, prominent news organizations – including The New York Times, The Washington Postand the Los Angeles Times – had chosen to protect the legacy of Ronald Reagan and to cover up for their own failures in the 1980s to investigate the cocaine trafficking by Reagan’s beloved Nicaraguan contra rebels.

But the ostracism of Gary Webb was part of a larger back story. It was a prelude to the massive journalism failures of the past decade when many of the same newspapers joined the stampede for George W. Bush’s wars, instead of showing professionalism and skepticism.

It was easier for careerist journalists to go along with Bush’s WMD deceptions in 2002-2003 as it was for them to detect supposed flaws in Webb’s reporting in 1996 rather than confront the grim reality that “respectable” government officials had protected drug criminals preying on Americans during the “just-say-no” Reagan administration.

Given this painful significance of Webb’s death, I have revisited the topic every year since 2004, in part to challenge the executives of these major newspapers to face up to their failures and admit that they not only mistreated Webb but that they let down their readers and their profession.

A Phone Call

For me, the tragic story of Gary Webb began in 1996 when he was working on his “Dark Alliance” series for the San Jose Mercury News. He called me at my home in Arlington, Virginia, because, in 1985, I and my Associated Press colleague Brian Barger had been the first journalists to reveal the scandal of Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contras, who were funding themselves in part by collaborating with drug traffickers.

Webb explained that he had come across evidence that one Contra-connected drug conduit had funneled cocaine into Los Angeles, where it helped fuel the early crack epidemic. Unlike our AP stories a decade earlier — which focused on the Contras helping to ship cocaine from Central America into the United States — Webb said his series would examine what happened to the Contra cocaine after it reached the streets of LA and other cities.

Besides asking about my recollections of the Contras and their cocaine smuggling, Webb wanted to know why the scandal never gained any real traction in the U.S. national news media. I explained that the ugly facts of the drug trafficking ran up against a determined U.S government campaign to protect the Contras’ image.  (read HERE)