Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Human Rights, Truth and Reconciliation in Colombia

Transitioning from our conversation about security imperatives in Colombia, we will be examining human rights issues this week, focusing in particular on the processes for demobilization and reconciliation. Human rights issues in Colombia cut across civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. We will begin by looking at the history of human rights abuses and violations by participants in the violence - paramilitaries, security forces, and rebel groups - and examine emblematic cases such as the Trujillo massacre and the targeting of union leaders.

In 2005, Colombia passed the controversial Justice and Peace Law (Law 975) to strengthen the reparative justice mechanisms within the demobilization process. The landmark legislation created the Comisión Nacional de Reparación y Reconciliación. Paramilitaries, however, continue to use violent tactics, and progress on victims' rights to reparations has been slow. Our discussion will cover the institutional and structural reforms established by the Law, and the problems that have arisen as a result in the truth and reconciliation process. We will discuss, in this context, what Colombia can learn from truth and reconciliation efforts elsewhere. Finally, the Human Rights Group will introduce its research topic - Memoria Historica, a research group and effort that seeks to give voice to the stories of victims and formulate policy proposals for the safeguard of human rights. The creation of a rights-based narrative of the armed conflict is seen as essential to the process of reconciliation and peace in the country.

We will later be joined via Skype by Moira Birss from Peace Brigades International's Colombia team. A Michigan alum, Moira spent two years in Colombia as a Human Rights Accompanier with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Moira will speak about her experience with human rights organization and provide a general context for human rights work, comparing progress on the issue under Santos regime with the performance of the Uribe administration. The conversation is open to members of the Ford School and University of Michigan community.

No comments:

Post a Comment