Members of Colombia’s congress concerned about the United States ambassador’s alleged attempts to frustrate the country’s war crimes tribunal.
During a breakfast organized by the US embassy on Tuesday, Whitaker allegedly pressured members of the House of Representative to accept President Ivan Duque‘s controversial objections to the statutory law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
W Radio reported that the ambassador “vehemently” asked the members of the provisional commission that studied Duque’s objections to revise their dismissal of the president’s attempt to send parts of the bill that were already approved by the Constitutional Court back to Congress.
The commission on Monday advised the House to dismiss Duque’s objections and effectively force the president to sign off on the JEP’s statutory law. The ambassador’s alleged pressure “made that, at times, the meeting became uncomfortable,” an anonymous source told W Radio.
According to magazine Semana, Whitaker also invited members of that court for dinner to discuss “several issues that affect bilateral judicial cooperation” on Wednesday, but revoked this invitation after the congressmen expressed their concern over the US government’s alleged meddling.
Newspaper El Espectador said the dinner was canceled after Constitutional Court president Gloria Ortiz personally called Whitaker to say she and he colleagues wouldn’t accept the invitation after considering a dinner would be inappropriate considering the circumstances.
We greatly regret that concerns have been raised about tonight’s invitation; however, due to our respect for the Constitutional Court and in the interest of avoiding inconvenience, the ambassador has decided to cancel this dinner.
United States Embassy via El Espectador
The ambassador has openly supported Duque in an apparent attempt to limit the court’s ability to block extraditions on US drug trafficking charges.
The United Nations, the European Union and victim organizations expressed their support for the JEP after Duque’s attempt to return the statutory law to Congress.
The US government triggered a major crisis in April last year when the Prosecutor General’s Office arrested “Jesus Santrich,” the long-time ideologue of the demobilized FARC guerrilla group, on an unsubstantiated drug trafficking claim.
The JEP is currently studying the extradition request having received evidence the FARC leader agreed to meet with an undercover DEA agent under false pretenses.
The extrajudicial extradition of 18 paramilitary leaders between 2008 and 2011 blocked investigations into crimes against humanity and left more than 200,000 victims without justice, according to victim organizations and judicial experts.