Colombian President Gustavo Petro proposed that drug traffickers who comply with government surrender conditions and abandon the trade will not be extradited to face charges abroad.
Petro, who was sworn in this month on promises to bring “total peace” to Colombia, said his government is in touch with various armed groups who want to negotiate their way out of conflict.
Leftist Petro has broadly questioned the effectiveness of extradition, a legal tool that the United States considers a powerful deterrent to crime.
His government has floated an offer of legal benefits like reduced sentences to crime gang members who provide information about drug trafficking and lay down arms.
“Drug traffickers who do not negotiate with the state will be extradited, drug traffickers who negotiate with the state and re-offend will be extradited, without any kind of negotiation, to the United States,” Petro told reporters after a meeting with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
“Drug traffickers who negotiate legal benefits with the Colombian state and definitively stop being drug traffickers will not be extradited,” he said.
The government is in communication with various armed groups including the Clan del Golfo crime gang and dissidents from the now-demobilized FARC rebel group, who reject a 2016 peace deal.
“We’re full of letters, written words asking for peace, asking to negotiate,” Petro said.
Members of a U.S. delegation on a visit to Colombia this week said the Biden administration recognizes a shared responsibility for the drug trade and the need to tackle it without hurting already vulnerable populations.
Petro proposed three other points regarding drug policy with the visiting delegation, including crop substitution, interdiction, and tackling money laundering, Rahul Gupta, director of the U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told a news conference.
The proposed ending of extradition needed to be discussed with Colombian ministries, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Todd Robinson told the news conference.
“This is obviously something that the Department of Justice will have to discuss with the ministry of justice and the State Department will have to discuss with the foreign ministry,” Robinson said.
Photo – The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro. EPA-EFE/Carlos Ortega