Colombia: Uribe decrees emergency powers in judicial strike

Under emergency powers announced by President Alvaro Uribe, Colombia’s Supreme Judicial Council has opened an investigation into striking court workers who refuse to return to work. Striking workers could face termination under the state of emergency. The court workers union Asonal Judicial pledges to continue the strike, which has paralyzed Colombia’s courts for over 40 days. According to police reports, 2,700 people charged with homicide, robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes have been released as a consequence of the strike, which affects 90% of Colombia’s 40,000 court workers.

Asonal is demanding a salary adjustment established by a 1992 law that has never been enforced, as well as guarantees of judicial independence. Asonal presented a list of grievances and demands in November 2007, but “the government has kept silent,” said Tarsicio Mora, president of the Central Workers Union (CUT), of which Asonal is a part. (El Espectador, Bogotá, Colombia Reports, Oct. 12; Prensa Latina, Oct. 10; IPS, Sept. 3)

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