Policing and the Colombian Case: Issues in Transitional Justice and Police Reform

Event date
2 March 2022
Event time
15:00 - 16:00
Oxford week
HT 7
Online Microsoft Teams Event
Oscar Parra-Vera

Online Teams Talk: Policing and the Colombian Case: Issues in Transitional Justice and Police Reform

Speaker: Oscar Parra-Vera

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Talk Description:

In Colombia, two discussions have emerged in the last three years, that can contribute to our comparative discussions on Policing, and the particularities of the Global South. 


In this talk Oscar Parra Vera will discuss concerns around the excess use of force by the Police when controlling protests in Colombia since 2019. A recent report endorsed by the United Nations accused the Police of massacre and recommends police reform.


In addition to this, Oscar will consider the issue of judgments from the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (SJP) regarding the 6,000 extrajudicial executions known as “false positives.” These decisions involved discussions about policies, express and tacit, which led to pressure for results in the contexts of armed conflict. Competition between military units has emerged in order to present the greatest possible number of casualties as these types of results could define promotions. In the decisions of the SJP, certain incentives were analyzed that, although legal, ended up precipitating an environment that contributed to massive and systematic violations of rights associated with these extrajudicial executions. 


Both in the case of false positives and the report on police violence, serious problems in the training schools for Armed Forces personnel in contexts of political violence such as the one Colombia is going through are highlighted. These policing issues need to be considered as they impact the current electoral contest that the country is going through and the debates on internal and external controls on the Armed Forces, the reforms that are needed to strengthen their legitimacy, and public confidence in them.

Speaker Bio:

Oscar Parra-Vera is a magistrate for Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Senior Research Associate, Programme for Studies on Human Rights in Context de la Ghent University (Bélgica). He holds an MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Oxford, and is a lecturer at the National University of Colombia. He has worked as Senior Legal Officer at the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights, and as fellow and consultant to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He has been a guest expert for the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the Human Rights Council, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.


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