Colombia’s government has refused to allocate funds to protect testifying war crime victims and witnesses, the war crimes tribunal said Tuesday.
In a press release, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) expressed it concern that the government of far-right President Ivan Duque refused the include $7.8 million requested by the court in its 2021 budget proposal.
According to the JEP, $5.2 million of the refused budget was meant for the protection of witnesses, some of whom have reported assassination attempts and death threats.
It is essential for the proper care and protection of victims, witnesses and people giving testimony.
Special Jurisdiction for Peace
The remaining $1.8 million of the requested budget request was meant for the representation and support of victims who are testifying over war crimes committed during the armed conflict between demobilized FARC guerrillas and the State.
This year’s refusal to grant the JEP is not the first time; last year the government sought to leave the transitional justice court virtually penniless, but was forced to grant the necessary budget after international pressure.
Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council, which oversees Colombia’s peace process, reiterated its support for the JEP, the truth commission and the missing persons unit that make up the transitional justice system.
The president’s Democratic Center (CD) party wants to abolish the JEP, however, as some of its members and financial backers are suspected of war crimes or paying paramilitary groups to commit them.
Duque’s political patron, former President Alvaro Uribe, is being investigated for his alleged complicity in three massacres and a homicide, for example.
Defense Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo on multiple occasions has reiterated the CD’s position that all use of force by the State is legitimate, disregarding Colombia’s constitution and international humanitarian law, which makes a clear distinction between the legitimate use of force and crimes against humanity.