Colombia’s former peace commissioner may see charges of falsely reporting the demobilization of a fictitious FARC unit dropped after supporters in the Senate successfully were able to amend an existing law to shield peace talks.
Colombia’s senate approved an amended extension to an existing law which will extend immunity to negotiators involved in Colombia’s ongoing peace talks between the government and the FARC rebel group.
The amended immunity clause allows former negotiators to also benefit. As such, there is only one person who would currently benefit from it: former peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo.
Restrepo fled Colombia in 2012 after prosecutors accused him of falsifying information that FARC units from a fictitious front, Cacica Gaitana, had demobilized. He had been peace commissioner under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe.
The approved extension focuses on guaranteeing that the paragraph states that “persons who participate in the approaches, dialogues or negotiations” of the peace talks will not “incur criminal or disciplinary liability” while they are participating in peace talks or a peace process.
The controversy comes from an paragraph which was successfully added by members of the Democratic Center party, the conservative opposition party led by Uribe. The paragraph provides options of evasion for negotiators accused of crimes during their time in the position.
It allows accused negotiators to “request that the investigation be archived, precluded or any form of termination of the process when it is shown that the facts developed in any of the stages” of the peace talks process.
Opponents to the extension –such as senator Viviane Morales who originally accused Luis Carlos Restrepo when she was Prosecutor General — see it as a clear political move to affect an entire law just to favor one person.
Citing the fact that Restrepo would be the only immediate beneficiary of the law, Morales said that “he paragraph was written with his own name.”
Criticism in local media claims that the extension sets a dangerous precedence, “[opening] the door for others [involved in parapolitics] to see favoritism.”
Inspector General Eduardo Montealegre defended the proposition from such criticism.
“They lie who say that this paragraph is for the benefit of Luis Carlos Restrepo,” he said. He claims that such accusation are “unsustainable words that are diverting the discussion on the topic. What congress did was to ratify a rule that already exists in law 418 of public order and demobilization.”
He emphasized that this is supposed to help keep the peace process stable in case accusations are made during negotiations “because that process hast to be completed.”
The additional paragraph and subsequent approval of the extension came only a few weeks after a lengthy meeting between Uribe and Montealegre
Restrepo is currently living outside of Colombia despite the fact that the Colombian government has dropped all previous warrants for his arrest.
- Fiscalía estudia dar inmunidad penal al excomisionado de paz Luis C. Restrepo (Blu Radio)
- Ley de orden público nada tiene que ver con Luis Carlos Restrepo: Fiscal (Caracol Radio)
- Ley de orden público daría inmunidad a Luis C. Restrepo y archivaría su proceso (RCN Radio)
- Parapolíticos se beneficiarían con ‘articulito’ de Luis Carlos Restrepo (El Espectador)
- ¿Qué dice la norma que beneficiaría a Luis Carlos Restrepo? (El Tiempo)