Colombia’s recently approved Victims’ Law will not require 26 convicted parapoliticians whose sentences were defined prior to the final approval of the law to pay reparations to victims, newspaper El Tiempo reported Wednesday.
Miguel Samper, the Transitional Justice director for Colombia’s Interior and Justice Ministry, explained that the new law, signed last Friday, is not retroactive, meaning that its tenets do not apply to those already sentenced prior to its signing, and that in order for currently convicted and jailed parapoliticians to fall under it, new and separate charges would have to be placed against them.
“Regarding those already sentenced, the favorability principle applies. The [Victims’] law is not able to be applied to them unless they have another investigation [against them] for distinct acts,” said Samper of the law, which, among other things, establishes that those who supported illegal armed groups will have to pay reparations to the victims of these groups.
The 26 convicts who escape the requirements of the law consist of former senators, governors and House representatives who supported paramilitary groups.
Among these are Mario Uribe, ex-senator and cousin of former President Alvaro Uribe, who was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison in February for dealings with paramilitaries, and ex-senator Juan Carlos Martinez, sentenced on June 8, who avoided the law by just three days.
Despite the non-retroactivity of the law, government officials have said that the Supreme Court left the possibility open for many of these already-sentenced parapoliticians to have to pay reparations in the future, by ordering investigation into many of the former officials for further charges of crimes against humanity, homicide and forced disappearances, among other crimes.