A war crimes tribunal that is part of Colombia’s peace process has caused a coalition crisis and allegedly spurred opposition from the country’s chief prosecutor.
The crisis in the government began when coalition party Radical Change of former Vice-President German Vargas withdrew its support for a war crimes tribunal that is part of an ongoing peace process with the FARC.
According to the FARC, the Prosecutor General has also been trying to modify the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) in a way that it would be a violation of the agreement.
How to convince Congress to end impunity
Congress has been debating the issue in the midst of a corruption crisis that could see the revival of criminal investigations against multiple senators for ties to anti-communist paramilitary groups.
Congressmen and political parties across the board have been tied to drug trafficking paramilitary groups held responsible for the majority of war crimes and influencing elections.
The United Nations warned Congress on Monday that the State had already proved “deficient” in executing the agreed peace process.
After Congress only managed to approve 102 of 160 articles for the JEP, Santos called an emergency meeting with his U Party and the Liberal Party to discuss Congress’ failure to swiftly approve the peace deal.
Fury over Vargas’ desertion
The U Party of President Juan Manuel Santos is furious with its coalition partner for abandoning support for the JEP and called to form a new coalition without Radical Change.
Vargas resigned from his post as vice president only months ago in order to be allowed to run in the 2018 elections.
“The president stressed that parties that did not support the JEP are out the government coalition,” Liberal Party Senator Juan Manuel Galan told news agency Colprensa.
Former Vice-President German Vargas Lleras is against the JEP and inside the government with several ministries.
Senator Armando Benedetti
“We cannot let them be utilitarian,” Santos ally Senator Armando Benedetti told Colprensa, claiming “that is how I interpret the president’s words.”
Vargas and his party were among the most damaged by the revived “parapolitics” crisis that initially blew up in 2006 after prosecutors found widespread links between congressmen and paramilitary death squads.
Is Vargas’ prosecution ally helping?
The FARC said Colombia’s chief prosecutor, a political ally of the former vice president, was also trying to modify the agreement.
Prosecutor General Nestor Martinez called on Congress on Monday to make changes on a number of alleged loopholes.
This peace process can advance if what has been agreed at the table in Havana is kept. We have said that the Government of Colombia, when putting this agreement before the Council of the Swiss Federation and the United Nations, made certain international commitments that must be honored. What concerns us most is that they change the content of the agreement, which would lead the peace process towards a shipwreck and we do not want that.
FARC political chief Luciano Marin, a.k.a. “Ivan Marquez”
The magistrates of the transitional justice tribunal have already been elected.
However, the war crimes tribunal agreed in the peace deal can not take force until after Congress passes a statutory law approving the courts.
The special court will be in charge of seeking justice for tens of thousands of war crimes committed by multiple sides that took part in the conflict.