Biograf

Impunity

There were some successes in holding to account perpetrators of human rights abuses.

  • In August, a civilian court convicted retired General Rito Alejo del Rio to 26 years in prison for the murder of a peasant farmer by paramilitaries. The court found that Rito Alejo del Río did not participate directly in this and the many other killings committed in the area under his command, but maintained close links with paramilitaries, allowing them to commit abuses with impunity.

The vast majority of those responsible for human rights abuses continued to evade justice. Those involved in human rights-related criminal cases, such as lawyers and witnesses, were threatened and killed.

  • On 10 October, a man aimed a gun at Alfamir Castillo, the mother of a man killed by soldiers in 2009 in Valle del Cauca Department, and threatened to kill her and her lawyers, Jorge Molano and Germán Romero. The attack took place days before a court hearing into the involvement of four army officers in the case; seven soldiers were already serving long prison terms for the killing.

Two laws threatened to exacerbate impunity. In June, Congress approved the “legal framework for peace”, which could allow human rights abusers to evade justice. In December, Congress approved a reform to the Constitution which will give the military greater control over criminal investigations implicating members of the security forces in human rights violations and could see many cases of human rights violations transferred to the military justice system, contrary to international human rights standards. In October, 11 UN Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts criticized the reform.