In January 2010, Center for Law and Social Responsibility Fellow Adonia R. Simpson 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. Ms. Simpson subsequently 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.
“Colombia’s internal conflict has made large-scale land displacements, murders, disappearances, and other human rights violations all too commonplace,” says Simpson. 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."