Official Text of Uribe's speech explaining the massive extradition of paramilitaries chiefs
President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia speaks on the occasion of the delivery in extradition of persons subjected to the Law of Justice and Peace.
Ministers, Officers of the Forces of Law and Order, High Commissioner, my colleagues in Government, friends of the media and fellow- countrymen all -
Early this morning some people were extradited, either because they had returned to crime after having submitted to the Law of Justice and Peace or because they had not cooperated with the justice system as they should; and all of them because they had failed to due their duty in making reparations to the victims, by concealing their assets or delaying their surrender.
The Government must retain the discretion to nominate and revoke nominations for the beneficiaries of the Law of Justice and Peace. The Government must also maintain the authority to judge whether a person who enjoys the benefit of suspension of delivery in extradition has satisfied the conditions required of him, or not.
This must be so because of the very close relationship between the Law of Justice and Peace and extradition on the one hand and on the other, public order, whose restoration and maintenance is a prime duty of the Government.
It is this Government that has, for the first time, required those who are engaged in the peace process to tell the truth and to hand over their assets as reparations for the victims.
The truth must be simple and prompt. A manipulated truth ceases to be truth. The truth must be told without calculations and without temporization.
The Government has asked, and the United States has accepted, that the State and People of Colombia may send representatives to the trials to be conducted in the United States, in order to continue the quest for the truth - the truth about the crimes investigated, most of them committed before this administration came into office; the truth in relation to trials already in progress, propitiated by the firmness of our security policy.
Further, the judicial cooperation agreements with the United States will make it easier to exchange evidence, and for the Colombian authorities to obtain evidence in the United States. The United States has reiterated its commitments on these points.
The Government has asked and the United States has accepted that the assets of the individuals extradited, handed over under agreements with the American courts, will be used to make reparations for Colombian victims. There is no reason why the moral reparations should not be made in the United States.
The Government considers that this decision is a guarantee of reparations for the victims and that it contributes to obtaining truth without distortion; it is a warning to all those who have submitted to the Law of Justice and Peace; it establishes a precedent for future peace processes; and it serves notice that the law must be respected and terrorism must be overthrown.
Democratic Security and the Law of Justice and Peace have greatly reduced the incidence of violence in Colombia. Therefore, we cannot afford to react weakly to the recidivists who return to their murders and their other crimes.
So far 47,433 people have demobilized; 3,284 of them have been nominated for the benefits of the Law of Justice and Peace, and 639 members of the former paramilitary groups, are in prison.
The Procurator has agreed to accompany a procedure to be applied by the Prosecution Service to decide on the legal standing of 19,377 members of the former paramilitary organizations who form part of the group of the demobilized.
The Law of Justice and Peace continues
We require the thousands of demobilized to comply with the Law of Justice and Peace. Colombia has been generous to them, but the Government cannot tolerate recidivism, failure to observe the provisions of the law, lack of true and effective collaboration with the justice system or lack of commitment in making reparations for the victims. The demobilized are now freer than ever to be reinserted so that they can recover their welfare, their families and their futures, in full.
Those who demobilized in previous peace processes should also tell the truth, in order to contribute to our national memory and history, and to avoid any future repetition of the tragedy that we are overcoming today. Those who demobilized in previous peace processes should make reparations to the victims - moral reparations, at least, if not economic reparations, which they never did and were never asked to do.
The Police, the prosecutors and the judges will pursue and seize all these assets to make reparations for the victims - there must be an absolute commitment to that end.
We invite anyone who is aware of assets belonging to those extradited or demobilized, to denounce them, and so, to facilitate the extinction of ownership and the reparations for the victims.
We urge those who have acted as front-men to go to the Prosecution Service to deliver assets which appear in their names but which in reality were unlawfully acquired by criminals. We remind you all that the Government ahs issued a Decree for the reparations to be made for the victims by administrative procedures, and this may cost COP7 billion.
We invite the victims to prevent any of their spokesmen from making alliances with the murderers in order to avoid extradition.
Firm decisions protect potential victims in the future, and should encourage the victims of today to look forward to compensation - although nothing will ever compensate all the pain of 50 years of terrorism.
We respectfully ask our judges to continue to help us with extradition, as an important tool to restore public order.
The noble institution of the citizen´s plea for fundamental rights cannot be allowed to be used to frustrate extradition which has been imposed with the blood and tears of so many justices, judges, officials and ordinary men and women.
We thank the troops and policemen of Colombia for their heroism, which has opened up the path to peace, a peace which is coming ever closer. With the forces of law and order, the Constitution and the people, we are moving forward towards the total overthrow of the criminals.
The peace processes of the future with the guerrillas must be no less strict than the present one. The peace processes of the future with the guerrillas must not be mechanisms for impunity, as they have been in the past.
Remember that the guerrillas were the masters, the ones who taught the paramilitaries to penetrate democratic institutions and kill journalists, union leaders and any number of ordinary people, leaving millions of families subsumed in grief and misery.
Remember that the paramilitaries are the offspring of the violence of the guerrillas and the neglect of the State.
My fellow-countrymen: let us all stand firm to win a Colombia without violence, prosperous in investment, fraternal in relations with the workers and fair in benefits.
Bogota, May 13, 2008.
DDHH en Colombia
|This document has been published on 19May08 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.|