Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Justice... delayed

A couple of weeks ago I was all set to attend my second criminal hearing in Colombia, though this time accompanying the defense lawyer, not a lawyer on the prosecution side (representing the victims is a role permitted in the Colombian justice system), as I did in 2010 in the San Jose de Apartado massacre case. Now, two is more attempts later, I’m seeing first hand some of the frustrations that many of my human rights lawyer friends have expressed about the Colombian judicial system.

I say that I attempted to attend two more hearings because neither of them actually happened.

The first hearing was to take place in early June in the southern department of Putumayo, a region inhabited by several indigenous ethnicities and referred to as the “gateway to the Amazon.” The hearing was to be for a case against two Nasa indigenous men accused of “rebellion,” a charge that alleges collaboration with the guerrillas.

However, for the second time in a row, the hearing was postponed. The lawyer wasn’t notified of the change, though, until we were already en route.