|Colombia war crimes probe urged|
June 29, 2005
A human rights coalition has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged war crimes by Colombia's main paramilitary group.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said the right-wing AUC militia had committed 2,000 atrocities since December 2002.
The FIDH also condemned laws setting out incentives for the AUC to disarm, saying they amount to an amnesty.
The government insists the legislation is vital to the peace process.
Bogota has been holding talks with the AUC aimed at getting the group to renounce violence.
A report submitted by the FIDH said the AUC had been guilty of assassinations, kidnappings and mass killings since it entered the peace process more than two years ago.
"Tens of thousands of crimes are being committed on a monthly basis," Alirio Uribe Munoz, the FIDH's vice president said on Wednesday.
"An ICC investigation is the only hope that there will be justice against those who commit crimes against humanity," he said.
The ICC, based in the Hague in the Netherlands, is allowed to launch prosecutions against suspected war criminals where other means for trying them have failed.
Colombia is one of nearly 100 nations that have ratified the ICC's charter.
The FIDH attacked Colombia for approving legislation that, it says, effectively grants the AUC immunity from prosecution.
According to its critics, the law promises AUC members - several of whom are wanted in the US on cocaine trafficking and terrorism charges - immunity from prosecution and extradition.
The FIDH report named several paramilitary soldiers as war crimes suspects.
It also calls for Colombian officials - including President Alvaro Uribe - to be prosecuted for their alleged failure to prevent and punish the crimes.
Colombia's paramilitaries have their origin in private armies formed by wealthy landowners to combat Marxist rebels.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/06/29 15:22:18 GMT
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001