The FIDH and CCAJAR in Panama to request extradition of former DAS director

Press release
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The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the Colombian human rights organisation Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CCAJAR), working jointly, were in Panama from 25 - 28 January 2012 to request the extradition of María del Pilar Hurtado, former director Colombia’s national intelligence agency, the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad de Colombia (DAS).

During the visit, representatives of the FIDH and CCAJAR presented Panamanian authorities with evidence that María del Pilar Hurtado was niether under threat nor the object of political persecution in Colombia and consequently requested that authorities rescind her status as political exile granted in November 2010

On 13 December 2011, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs responding to orders from the Office of the Attorney General formally requested the extradition of the former DAS director from Panamanian authorities. Mrs. Hurtado has already been banned from holding public office for 18 years by the Office of the Inspector General of Colombia and stands accused of criminal conspiracy and other crimes to which former high-ranking civil servants who worked under her in the DAS have already confessed.

The FIDH had already organized a visit to Panama in November 2010, when Panama granted political asylum to María del Pilar Hurtado, to ask authorities to rescind their decision. At the time they pointed out the victims’ right to truth, justice, remedy, and the guarantee that crimes of this nature, which have deeply marred Colombian institutions and democracy, never be committed again.

During the current visit, the FIDH encouraged Panamanian authorities to rescind political asylum, which was granted under highly irregular circumstances, and to extradite María del Pilar Hurtado so that she can be tried by the Colombian judicial system for the illegal activities performed by the DAS while she was director.

The FIDH also urged Panamanian authorities to ensure that the FIDH delegation could carry out their work in Panama and to provide for the safety of the delegates. Authorities were asked to meet with Panama’s international obligations by not contributing to the impunity of one of the main perpetrators of such serious crimes and allowing her to stand trial before the Supreme Court of Justice in Colombia.

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