The president of the Congressional Peace Commission claimed Wednesday that failure to reform the Justice and Peace Law will result in the release of 1,300 former paramilitary fighters, Colombia media reported.
Senator Roy Barreras explained that of the 1,700 paramilitary members awaiting trial, 1,300 have not been officially charged and 400 have been charged but not convicted. Only four paramilitary fighters have actually been convicted of crimes against humanity.
Barreras identified three problems with the current system, Radio Sante Fe reported, with the most serious being that the law is only effective for six years, meaning that the 1,300 alleged criminals who have not been formally charged by the prosecutor general before the expiration date will be set free before standing trial.
A second problem Barreras pointed out is that the law does not allow new applicants to receive the benefits of demobilization.
He also blamed institutions like the Catholic Church for conducting peace negotiations with terrorist groups such as the FARC. “We will not continue improvising, the peace must be fair and serious,” Barreras added.
Barreras reiterated that the Colombian government must decide once and for all who will receive benefits for demobilizing.
“Who will be offered transitional justice? To guerrillas, to paramilitaries, to military court defendants, to ‘BACRIM,’ to all, or to none? That is the decision to be taken.”
Ivan Cepeda, usually an outspoken legislative opponent of Barreras, echoed similar concerns about the Justice and Peace Law.
“It has structural flaws and the system lacks the resources and judicial officials to ensure that those who have submitted to this law provide the elements of truth and necessary reparations,” said Cepeda.