Saturday, November 20, 2010

Asylum for a victimizer

Recently Maria del Pilar Hurtado, who presided over Colombia's DAS internal intelligence service while it was illegally wiretapping and harassing judges, opposition politicians, journalists, and human rights workers, has sought and gained political asylum in Panama. This is a travesty, because she is no victim but rather a victimizer, and is now seeking to escape the legal consequences for her crimes. She is not being "persecuted", as she claims, but merely investigated for her alleged crimes, as is appropriate in a democracy. It seems that other DAS employees are in the same process of seeking asylum in Panama. It will be a horrible blow to justice and the fight against impunity in Colombia if these people are allowed to become fugitives from the law. That said, politicians like Rafael Pardo of the Liberal Party affirm that these people's seeking of asylum abroad is an implicit admission of their guilt. A friend of mine wondered if Alvaro Uribe might follow suit. He was president during the DAS's illegal wiretapping, and the DAS reports directly to the executive, so it's reasonable to think he had something to do with the whole affair. Again, if he jumped ship in Colombia without answering for his crimes, it would be a real travesty of justice. On the other hand, Uribe and his U Party hardliners have been making a stink about the (ultraconservative) President Santos's policies, essentially pressing for a return even farther to the right. If they had to leave Colombia, at least we'd be rid of that destabilizing force!

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