Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2002
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company
Author: Alice Foltz


On Aug. 14 Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman 
requested that U.S. military personnel in Colombia be given immunity from 
prosecution by the International Criminal Court for any human rights abuses 
that may occur in connection with their work [news story, Aug. 15]. This is 
devastating news to Colombians who want their government to observe basic 
human rights standards.

Colombian human rights commissioners and judges who investigate 
assassinations and massacres are regularly killed, and leaders of peace 
groups and labor unions are equally at risk. About 3,500 people were killed 
last year, and the Colombian government is itself implicated by its 
inaction. In Bojaya, 119 civilians were massacred in May after the military 
ignored many warnings of the danger and allowed paramilitary groups to move 
freely into that region.

The only hope for Colombian democracy is the establishment of a rule of 
law, and the Colombian citizens who work at great risk to themselves to 
establish a civil society deserve our support. Announcement that the U.S. 
military will join the Colombian groups that ignore human rights is not the 
way to establish democracy.


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