On 29-30 October the ICJ, in partnership with dhColombia and the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF), hosted a two-day training workshop in Bogotá on the legal framework around enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings.
The training aimed to improve the understanding of victims and human rights lawyers of the domestic law on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Colombia. It included an analysis of both the ordinary justice system, as well as transitional justice mechanisms. It also explored the role of the forensic sciences in tackling impunity for those crimes.
The ICJ in furtherance of its objective to promote accountability, justice and the rule of law in Colombia, has been continuously monitoring the investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations and abuses, particularly extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Perpetrators of such violations, which constitute crimes under international law, have enjoyed a high level of impunity. While there are numerous unresolved cases dating back to the 1970s, violations have continued even after a comprehensive peace agreement was signed in 2016 following decades of armed conflict.
In Colombia, achieving accountability for those crimes has proven difficult for several reasons, including the ineffective functioning of the justice system. Victims and their lawyers have faced serious obstacles in gaining access to effective remedies. In addition, the creation of new institutions by the Peace Agreement has changed some basic rules and procedures for the investigation and prosecution of those crimes. Consequently, the Colombian justice system is more complicated to understand not only for victims but for lawyers.
The training workshop was part of a broader regional project addressing justice for extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Colombia, Guatemala and Peru. Participants were victims and human rights lawyers from different regions of the country, especially those where that is less opportunity to access legal and forensic training. Considering that capacity building activities are essential to the effective achievement of accountability, it is expected that participants of the training will obtain valuable tools to demand justice and remedy and reparations for serious human rights violations.
Rocío Quintero M, Legal Adviser, Latin America. Email: rocio.quintero(a)icj.org
Carolina Villadiego, ICJ Legal and Policy Adviser, Latin America, and Regional Coordinator of the Project. Email: carolina.villadiego(a)icj.orgNewsWeb stories