Colombian Accountability and HRWIFF Films: Podcast with Michael Reed

6/7/2011

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This year’s Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, beginning on June 16 in New York, will feature two films directly related to ICTJ’s work in Colombia.

In this week’s podcast Michael Reed Hurtado, head of ICTJ’s Colombia program, discusses justice and accountability in the context of Colombia’s transition and ongoing armed conflict, and how the films La Toma (The Siege) and Impunity reflect the processes he sees on the ground.

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La Toma documents the struggle for truth of a group of families brought together by the disappearance of their loved ones in the 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice, home to Colombia’s Supreme Court. Impunity is the story of the impact of the controversial Justice and Peace Law on the families of victims and their search for the truth about their loved ones who were disappeared by right-wing paramilitaries.

Reed Hurtado explains the obstacles to justice presented in both documentaries. The Colombian justice system “is confronted by very powerful interests and incredibly violent criminal apparatuses. Moreover, political will is often lacking, especially when criminal investigations point to criminal alliances between paramilitary groups and political, economic and military elites.”

But the films “definitely contribute towards accountability and the struggle against impunity,” he says. “These types of films in Colombia are very novel: documentaries might be popular in Europe and the United States but it is very new to have these types of issues being dealt with by such high-quality films in Colombia.”

Read more and see trailers for the films