Last Updated:3/20/00
March 9 letter from Barry McCaffrey, director, Office of National Drug Control Policy, to Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-Alabama)
Washington, DC 20503

March 9, 2000

Representative Sonny Callahan
United States House of Representatives
Chairman, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations
The Capitol. H-150
Washington DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The purpose of this letter is to express ONDCP concern over the amendment to the emergency supplemental for Colombia that may be offered by Representative Farr.

The Farr amendment would condition U.S. assistance to Colombia upon actions by the government of Colombia that appear to be unconstitutional in Colombia. Colombia, like the U.S., has a constitutional form of government that separates powers among three branches of government. A condition of aid under the Farr Amendment would be that allegations of human rights violations by members of the military must be pursued in civilian, rather than military courts. The Colombian executive cannot give the United States Government assurance of that sort of judicial treatment without infringing on the powers of the judiciary. The Colombian Superior Judicial Council routinely declines jurisdiction over cases involving the military because of their determination that under the Colombian Constitution jurisdiction properly rests with military courts. To make things more complex, Colombia does not have one overarching judicial body (e.g., the Supreme Court in the US). The amendment would have to deal with the jurisdiction of the Superior Judicial Council, an independent civilian judiciary not responsible to the executive or the military.

The Farr amendment also requires that the head of the Colombian armed forces be granted power to summarily dismiss officers for whom there is reasonable cause to believe they have ties to the illegal self defense forces or who have committed human rights violations. Such legislation was recently passed by the Colombian Congress, and is awaiting President Pastrana's signature.

Finally, the amendment would earmark $6.5 million for alternative development programs in Colombia administered by the U.N.D.C.P. That organization has under consideration the possibility of funding alternative development projects in the zone temporarily under control of the FARC. We would oppose any mechanism to provide U.S. assistance to support that terrorist organization.

We look forward to close cooperation in developing legislation that addresses valid Congressional concerns, while continuing to safeguard U.S. vital interests at stake in Colombia.


Barry R. McCaffrey

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