Better a Jail Cell in the United States: Using Extradition to Avoid Criminal Accountability in Colombia

IMPORTANT: The full content of this page is available to premium users only.

Thursday, November 1, 2012
Luz E. Nagle

Extradition between Colombia and the United States has been a controversial, and often frustrating, arrangement for more than three decades.  The on again, off again treaty has survived Colombian constitutional challenges based on national sovereignty and political concessions made to drug traffickers, and yet remains a staple in the counternarcotics arsenal of United States drug control policy.  However, in recent years, political developments in Colombia‚Äôs long-standing internal armed conflict have made extradition to the United States a viable alternative for many Colombian paramilitary combatants to avoid accountability for egregious human rights violations and heinous crimes that would result in lengthy prison sentences in Colombia and exposure to extrajudicial retribution.  Recently, several high value individuals have been extradited to the United States under favorable arrangements negotiated by savvy former United States prosecutors-turned-defense lawyers to serve little, or in some cases, no jail time in the United States in order to avoid being tried and sentenced to decades of incarceration in Colombia.