Colombia’s congress has suspended debates over the country’s war crimes tribunal at the request of president-elect Ivan Duque.
The United Nations last week asked Congress to move forward with the legislation over the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), claiming the court “is the hope for victims that have been demanding justice for ages.”
But Colombia’s 8.5 million victims can wait even longer, according to Duque and Congress. They want the Constitutional Court to first make a statement about the legal reach of the transitional justice system.
The session was suspended indefinitely and is likely not to reappear on the agenda until after July 20 when a new Congress is inaugurated.
Duque’s hard-right Democratic Center party has opposed the peace process and in particular the war crimes tribunal that should provide justice for the human rights violations carried out by the military and FARC guerrillas.
The outgoing government of President Juan Manuel Santos has rejected the delay and was actively lobbying its approval on Monday. Also the United Nations, which is monitoring the peace process, urged for a speedy approval of the court.
True peace passes through Truth, Justice, Reparation, Memory and Guarantees of non-repetition of human rights violations, that is why UN Human Rights supports the work of the JEP.
UN Human Rights chief in Colombia Alberto Brunori
Peace was signed in November 2016 already. More than a year and a half later, Congress has yet to approve the legal limits of the war crimes tribunal as well as the majority of other bills related to the peace process.
If the country’s justice system fails to try war crimes, the International Criminal Court (ICC) could step in and demand the extradition of alleged war criminals.
The ICC has already been pressuring Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate 23 generals and nine corporals for the extrajudicial executions of innocent civilians that cost thousands of lives.
Colombia’s armed conflict left more than 8.5 million victims since 1964.