Plan Condor: Extradition of Colonel Cordero reaffirms importance of international justice

The decision of Brazil’s Supreme Court to extradite the Uruguayan colonel Manuel Cordero to Argentina offers an important opportunity to uncover the crimes committed under Plan Condor, Amnesty International said today.

Cordero is accused of the disappearance of Uruguayan and Argentinean citizens in the context of Plan Condor.

“In deciding to send Cordero to Argentina, Brazil’s Supreme Court is demonstrating that international justice works, and it is sending a strong message that no country should be a safe haven for criminals,” said Hugo Relva, legal advisor at Amnesty International.

“It still remains for Brazil to investigate and serve justice in the hundreds of cases of abuses committed under its own military regime,” said Hugo Relva. “A first and fundamental step is to abolish the anachronistic Amnesty Law.”

Brazil’s Supreme Court took this decision based on the extradition request made in March 2005 by the Argentine federal court, which investigates the crimes committed in the former secret detention centre known as Automotores Orletti (Orletti Motors), in Buenos Aires. Former colonel Manuel Cordero is also wanted by the Uruguayan authorities, who suspect him of being linked to the forced disappearance of Uruguayan citizens in Buenos Aires under Plan Condor.

Amnesty International reminds States of their obligation to grant the extraditions of persons implicated in crimes against international law. Amnesty has also stated that, where there exists well-founded reasons which prevent the granting of an extradition – for example, the risk that the death penalty or torture may be applied in the petitioning state – every state has the obligation, under international law, to submit the case to its national courts.

Background Information Plan Condor was the coordination between the military governments of the Southern Cone – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay – in order to eliminate their “opponents” during the 1970s and 1980s. This plan was carried out through the extrajudicial execution, torture and forced disappearance of thousands of people, among other serious human rights violations.

The vast majority of the perpetrators of these crimes have still not been identified or stood trial. In many cases they continue to enjoy the benefits granted by amnesty laws or other similar measures. In general neither the surviving victims nor their relatives have been granted their right to know the truth of the events and to obtain the appropriate reparations.