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CLSR Fellow Speaks about Colombia and Its Legal System

(Boston, Revised 04/07/10) New England Law | Boston: In mid-January, CLSR fellow Adonia R. Simpson ’09 served as an international observer at the trial of seven members of the Colombian military, who were charged with murdering the spouse of a prominent indigenous rights leader.  On March 24, Ms. Simpson discussed her experiences at the trial, the conflict that has ravaged Colombia for more than 40 years, indigenous and gender rights issues, and the challenges the nation faces as it continues to transition from an inquisitorial to an adversarial legal system.

 Indigenous Guard photo
Pierre Rousseau (Lawyers without Borders, Canada) and Adonia Simpson ’09 with the Indigenous Guard in Colombia.

Ms. Simpson comments, “Colombia’s internal conflict has made large-scale land displacements, murders, disappearances, and other human rights violations all too commonplace.  A lack of accountability for these acts is of concern to both the Colombian and international communities.”

She continued, “As an international observer for Rights & Democracy of Canada, I had the opportunity to travel to Popayán, Colombia, for two weeks.  I worked with two other attorneys from Lawyers without Borders, Canada.  The experience was extremely educational.  I was immersed in not only the Colombian legal system and laws, but also its culture and political climate.  The newly adopted adversarial system is much different, and at times more complex, than that of the United States and Canada.  Additionally, the politics surrounding the trial has brought much attention from human and indigenous rights activists, both locally and internationally. 

 "I hope to return in May when the trial resumes to observe and report on the conclusion and result of the proceedings, and to do more observations of this nature in other nations.”  

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