To mark the third anniversary of the extradition of 14 of Colombia’s former top paramilitary commanders to the U.S., Verdad Abierta has released a report which asks whether the truth was extradited with them.
The Colombian government negotiated a peace deal with the paramilitaries in 2003-2006, in which many of the leaders of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – AUC) agreed to give themselves up to justice, and reveal the truth about their crimes.
Fourteen of these men were later extradited to the U.S. to stand trial on drug trafficking charges, and rights bodies have argued that as a consequence the commanders have not testified about crimes they committed in Colombia.
Verdad Abierta reports that a group of human rights organizations traveled to the U.S. between 2008 and 2010, and identified some key problems with achieving justice, truth and reparations for the victims of the paramilitaries. These include that victims do not have access to the extradited; that priority is given to the ordinary justice processes, i.e. drug trafficking charges; that the families of the extradited lack security, so the ex-paramilitaries are often reluctant to testify about their crimes for fear of reprisals against their relatives; and that there is a lack of clarity about the whole process.