Colombia: Key human rights case must not be handed over to the military justice system

Luis Alfonso Plazas was arrested in July 2007 in relation to the disappearances, which took place during the military assault on the Palace of Justice in Bogotá after M-19 guerrillas took those inside hostage in November 1985. Over 100 people died in the assault, including 12 Supreme Court judges.

A civilian judge will decide on 23 January whether or not to accept the request from the military justice system. If the request is rejected then the Superior Council of the Judiciary (Consejo Superior de la Judicatura) will have the final say with regards to which institution has jurisdiction over the case.

Amnesty International's Colombia Researcher, Marcelo Pollack said:

"The military justice system has been key in ensuring that impunity continues to be a defining feature of Colombia's long-running internal conflict.

“Under no circumstances must the civilian courts agree to hand over responsibility for this case to their military counterparts.”

In 1997 Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that all cases implicating the security forces in serious human rights abuses must be investigated by the civilian justice system. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have repeatedly made similar calls.

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