November 22, 2011
Statement by H.E. Fernando Alzate Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations
Launch of the publication The Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism (co-organized by the New York Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF))
Mr. Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
Mr. Robert Orr, Chair Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF);
Miss Carie Lemack;
Miss Mira Sorvino;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, first of all, to express our gratitude for organizing this event to launch the handbook on "the Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism" prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in accordance with a General Assembly mandate and in collaboration with some Member States, including Colombia.
My country highly values the ongoing cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and has, consistently contributed to the development of tools that facilitate the provision of technical assistance to help States to implement their obligations under existing international instruments, including those related to the fight against terrorism. In recent years, this cooperation has resulted in the development of toolkits on counter-terrorism, kidnapping, and in addition to the publication we are launching today, there is a work in progress to publish a digest of cases on transnational organized crime exploring how the provisions of the Palermo Convention have been applied to solve them.
From its experience and to the extent of its possibilities, Colombia would continue to sponsor, funding and providing technical expertise to develop these important tools.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
My country has been the victim of terrorism, and condemns it in all its forms and manifestations. We reaffirm that there are neither causes nor circumstances to justify it. We are also convinced that terrorism can only be defeated through international cooperation and in compliance with international law obligations, in particular the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The support and compensation to victims is a key element of the Colombian policy on the promotion and protection of human rights and on the fight against violence and terrorism. Since 2005, with the Law on Justice and Peace Colombia began a process that has allowed victims to be seen and the painful facts and circumstances in which their fundamental rights were violated to be publicly known. As a result of this process, on May 25 the Colombian Congress passed the Law on Victims and Land Restitution.
The Law identifies as victims any person who individually or collectively has suffered harm from violations to international humanitarian law or to the international human rights standards. In a broad concept, the Law also recognizes as victims their close relatives.
In addition, the National Commission on Reconciliation and Reparation has been developing efforts to ensure that all victims, without any distinction, but with a gender, age and ethnicity perspective, have access to truth, justice and the promise of non-repetition.
With the enactment of this Law, the Government of Colombia sent a message of hope to the victims and a strong signal that perpetrators will be brought to justice. We have now the challenge of implementing the Law which will cover 10 years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the framework of the Organization, we have also made great strides. The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy recognized, for the first time, the importance of putting in place "national systems of assistance that would promote the needs of victims of terrorism and their families and facilitate the normalization of their lives" and "the need to promote international solidarity in support of victims". Thus, it was recognized that a comprehensive policy to combat terrorism, must include the protection of the rights of victims of terrorism and measures to mitigate the damages.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism has acknowledged that addressing the rights of victims of terrorism help them rebuild their lives but also can help to reduce tensions in the society which, by themselves, could lead to conditions conducive to terrorism recruitment. The Special Rapporteur also affirms that the support to victims of terrorism who have suffered serious violations of their fundamental rights may include the provision of material, legal and psychological assistance and, in this regard, underlines the vital importance of bringing to justice the perpetrators of acts of terrorism.
To conclude, I would like to reiterate that Colombia will continue to work for the victims to be heard and to contribute to assist States to have in place appropriate mechanisms for reparation and rehabilitation of victims. This handbook is a concrete measure aimed at protecting and promoting their rights and recognition. We hope it will serve as the basis for UN capacity building activities and to assist Member States in ensuring that the voices of the victims are heard in criminal proceedings.
Thank you very much.