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Colombian House of Representatives Passes “Victims Act”

first_imgBy Dialogo June 18, 2009 Bogotá, June 16 (EFE). – Today the Colombian House of Representatives passed the “Victims Act” (Ley de Víctimas), which seeks to economically compensate the thousands of people affected by violence in that country. The Minister of Internal Affairs and Justice, Fabio Valencia Cossio, said that by approving this act “the balance between the respect for international standards and the Colombian Constitution and laws will be achieved regarding fiscal feasibility and political responsibility.” According to the Press Service from Casa de Nariño, the headquarters of the Executive power, Valencia Cossio emphasized that “the Act takes responsibility for the thousands of families that have been affected by more that 50 years of violence in Colombia.” According to Valencia, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has made the country a pioneer in the enforcement of transitional justice “despite how, throughout the world, it is normally enforced at the end of a confrontation or a peace process.” He also said, regarding this project of parliamentary origin, that “fundamental elements have been added to allow not only the current decree in force for the compensation by administrative proceedings in Colombia, but also an act to compensate the people both economically and integrally.” Now the project will pass to the Conciliatory Commission, since there are discrepancies with the Senate’s approval. Uribe praised the project’s approval, and said that “in the past (the victims) did not make claims because they were afraid or they thought it would be useless. Today we have more that 220 thousand victims registered in the waiting list for compensation.” He explained that these economic compensations presuppose “a high-cost measure for the Treasury in years to come, but it is necessary to eliminate the seeds of revenge.” Meanwhile, the deponent of the Act, Congressman Guillermo Rivera, told the press that by passing this law “the government and the Uribist coalition committed an atrocity toward the victims of this country.” He explained that the way this Act had been laid out, only after a judiciary sentence is passed would the victims of state agents be compensated and receive benefits. He added that the government did not consider the multiple observations that the opposing party made. He remarked that “what is worse is that, according to the Act’s layout, victims such as the mothers of the Soacha youngsters missing and murdered by the military will not receive any benefits. This conveys a terrible image to the international community.” He announced that, jointly with Senator Juan Fernando Cristo of the Liberal Party, he will present a lawsuit against the approved Act based on several unconstitutionality errors. On the other hand, the National Bureau of Victims, which gathers human rights defenders, reported in a press release that the approval of the “Victims Act does not meet the minimum international and constitutional standards regarding the rights of victims of human rights violations and infractions of international human rights.” Furthermore, they state that “the observations made by Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Colombian government and Congress were disregarded.” They also state that the initiative considered neither the suggestions expressed by more than 4,000 victims in 9 regional hearings nor the requests expressed in more than 12,000 letters sent to the House of Representatives.last_img read more

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Building Citizen Security in Central America

first_img Illicit cash threatens the region Central America’s geography of multinational borders, blind passages, dense jungles and extensive coastlines makes it vulnerable to smugglers. For a region accustomed to receiving millions of dollars in remittances each year from family members living and working abroad, the informal economy provides another degree of elusiveness for targeting drug traffickers and their profits. Cresencio Arcos, a former U.S. ambassador to Honduras and now an advisor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, or CHDS, in Washington, D.C., noted that Central America’s informal economy makes it easier to move illicit cash. The nature of such a financial system and the size of remittances to the region make it an easier target for money launderers and corruption. “The drug trade is not a conventional threat. It is an insidious threat to all of us. Everybody is susceptible to it — the institutions, the individuals, the rich, the poor. Whoever gets in the way either gets out of the way or partakes,” Ambassador Arcos told Diálogo. “You got such an enormous amount of money flowing through there [Central America] by their standards … they’re much more vulnerable.” Brig. Gen. Roberto Rodríguez Girón of the Guatemalan Air Force, an instructor at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C., agreed that until money laundering is adequately targeted, drug traffickers will continue to pose a serious threat to the region. “The threats are not to one or the other, they are to all. … Day by day, it is more serious,” he told Diálogo. “We have organizations; but we do not have the resources.” Brig. Gen. Girón said bilateral and multilateral programs such as Plan Pueblo Panama and the Merida Initiative with the U.S. are helping, but he added that there needs to be broader participation and international funding devoid of political and ideological differences. Governments and law enforcement in Central America are taking a new approach to fighting drug traffickers and the billions of dollars in illicit cash that support them. Military, government and regional analysts interviewed by Diálogo say that while interdiction operations are still a priority, resolving the problem also requires regional support for better tracking of illicit funds and strengthening the legal framework to prosecute criminals. These factors, in turn, can help remove illicit cash from the economy and reduce the drug trade and violence that comes with it. North America’s drug demand has been fed in recent decades by a supply chain from South America. These drugs have traditionally been trafficked through Caribbean and Pacific routes. In the past few years, however, traffickers have shifted their focus to Central American routes. Cocaine trafficking by air, sea and land through Central America increased to startling levels after Colombian and Mexican authorities tightened controls and pressured drug cartels. To demonstrate the impact in Guatemala alone, the volume of cocaine shipments jumped from fewer than 7 tons in 2007 to 300 to 400 tons by 2009, reported intelligence firm Stratfor. The U.N. office on Drugs and Crime 2010 World Drug Report says the global drug industry nets $300 billion to $400 billion in profit annually. With cartels increasingly transporting drugs through Central America, the region is becoming home to tens of billions of dollars in illicit cash. Rising street-level crimes and higher homicide rates are a byproduct of drug smuggling in Central America. InSight, a Bogota-based organization dedicated to examining organized crime in the Americas, reports that drug-related violence accounts for 60 percent of all crimes in countries from Mexico to Honduras. In Guatemala, where criminal organizations like the Mexican Zetas cartel are staking claim to territory, 40 percent of the murders have been directly linked to narcotrafficking, according to the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank. By Dialogo April 01, 2011 What measurements has America taken to get free of its problems, economical, political, social, or religious. center_img SICA: A regional approach One such initiative on the minds of many is the Central American Integration System, or SICA, a regional group that met in Guatemala City from June 22-23, 2011, to confront shared problems from a transregional approach. SICA Secretary-General Juan Daniel Alemán, speaking in February 2011 at a panel discussion at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, D.C., said money laundering was a key challenge in confronting drug trafficking. “This is happening in a horrible way in our societies, our ways of doing business and our style of life,” he said. “Day by day, narco activity is not only taking away the earnings of Central Americans, but it also connects our societies to narco dollars.” Nicaraguan Roberto Orozco, an investigator for the Institute for the Study of Strategic and Public Policy, or IEPP, explained how drug money enters the economy and influences the populace in communities with few government-supported social and economic development programs. “When the state is absent, organized crime achieves a social legitimacy. or, when there is not a vision for local development, narcotrafficking uses its principal power, which is not arms nor drugs, but money, ‘the pay for services in cash,’ ” he said at an IEPP conference on organized crime and border security in July 2010. Orozco explained that when drug traffickers play the role of the state or help to fuel economic activity with illicit cash, they become an accepted part of the community. “The economic compensation is one of the principal reasons why the actions of organized crime are legitimized.” It is for this reason that many stakeholders are looking forward to building on the progress and commitments made at the SICA meeting in Guatemala. Guillermo Pacheco, a Guatemalan instructor at CHDS, believes that as SICA’s rotating president, countries like his must exercise political will to strengthen their own internal institutions while also encouraging non-partner nations like Mexico to play a role before SICA can have an impact. “We cannot talk about a conference, or even a regional security strategy and strengthening SICA, if we do not have strong institutions in Central America,” he told Diálogo. Pacheco explained that countries can build on the credibility and trust that the populace already has for the Armed Forces to strengthen their police forces. In turn, the two groups can work together to address the drug problem. “There are many municipalities that are requesting a military presence,” he said, pointing to the population’s support for military action instead of local police addressing the security problem. “The problem is that there is no institutional framework that coordinates work between the Armed Forces and the police in Central America, in general.” Ambassador Arcos agreed that citizen security is a key factor that regional institutions can address with transregional efforts to train and equip the military and police. In turn, with greater citizen safety will come economic development, he explained. “Citizens don’t believe anymore [in the security apparatus] by and large because of all this corruption, violence, the drugs, the guns coming through,” he said. “Citizen safety is impacting the development of these countries … The general population is scared now.” Both Brig. Gen. Girón and Pacheco stressed political will as a key factor for the institutional changes that must take place. Pacheco said that political will for stronger internal institutions can help further the regionwide efforts at institution-building discussed at the SICA conference. “What we are trying to do is coordinate our security initiatives,” Pacheco said. “The role of SICA can raise institution building to a regional level that can impact the national level … not the power to do so, but it could have an influence.”last_img read more

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Child abuse on rise

first_imgBay of Plenty Times 7 June 2013As Waikato’s child abuse statistics rise Child, Youth and Family says it’s well prepared to respond to the demand.The latest statistics, released in April, show Waikato is on track to top more than 2000 cases of substantiated child abuse for the year ending June 30. The latest findings buck a trend of declining substantiated abuse cases in the Waikato.The number of substantiated abuse cases has been declining since the 2009 financial year when there were 2391 cases. That number has dropped annually with 1683 in the 2012 financial year.The half-yearly report documenting substantiated abuse for July-December last year was 1065, putting the region on track to almost eclipse figures from four years ago.CYF Midlands regional director Greg Versalko isn’t concerned at his organisation’s ability to cope with the increase in abuse cases.“I would be very concerned if I didn’t think we were prepared to respond to that demand. But I feel we are in a good position in that respect.”Mr Versalko said it was always difficult to determine the reasons for a spike in the number of substantiated abuse cases. He said it wasn’t necessarily that child abuse was increasing but that there was more discussion in the media which boosted reported cases. He said when there was increased discussion on child abuse, CYF saw an increase in demand for their services.http://www.bayofplentytimes.co.nz/news/child-abuse-on-rise/1897590/last_img read more

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Rodgers: Too late to sell Suarez

first_imgLiverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed it is too late for Real Madrid to make a move for Luis Suarez. Press Association “It’s very difficult at this time [for a Suarez bid to succeed],” Rodgers said. “We are trying to get one or two more quality players in through the door. If we lose Luis at this stage it would be difficult to replace him. “There might have been a point a few months ago where there was time to do it but with 11 days to go it would be difficult to replace him.” Rodgers is satisfied with his dealings to date, bringing in Kolo Toure, Simon Mignolet, Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas and Aly Cissokho, but was unsuccessful with some of his more ambitious targets. The Reds were keen on the highly rated Henrikh Mkhitaryan but lost out to Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund while interest in Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa came to nothing. Now Anzhi Makhachkala’s Brazilian forward Willian appears to have snubbed Anfield but Rodgers, whose side impressed in their season-opening defeat of Stoke, is not perturbed. Rodgers said: “Over the course of the summer we have been very ambitious in our attempts to improve the team. Some might say too ambitious – but this is Liverpool Football Club. “We are trying to get the best players we possibly can. If we can’t get them in we just have to move on. We have 11 days to go. We have to do everything we possibly can. It hasn’t changed. “If you want to claim the league you have to have quality and get the best players you possibly can to help you climb. That is our aim. If you don’t get the player you want there is that initial disappointment but you can’t dwell on it. There is still a chunk of the window left. “We did some business early on in the window that was very good and if we can finish off in these remaining days and get some players in that can help us, it would end a very good window for us.” Rodgers is considering strengthening his central defensive options after Sebastian Coates suffered a serious knee injury on international duty last week. The Uruguayan has struggled to establish himself since joining the Reds two years ago but for Rodgers he was an important member of the squad. Rodgers said: “I think it is something we are looking at certainly, a player to come in in that position. I feel for big Seba. It is probably going to rule him out for most of the season, which is a big problem.” Fresh speculation surrounding the Uruguay striker has begun just days after he appeared before Liverpool’s opening home game of the season apparently content to remain at Anfield for the time being. But with Real Madrid – the club top of Suarez’s list when he first sought a transfer earlier this summer – linked with a move for him, Rodgers said there was no longer enough time remaining in the transfer window to countenance losing last season’s top scorer. last_img read more

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