After constant criticism of Colombia’s proposed military reform from various human rights NGOs, Colombia’s congress is seeking to change the reform, local media reported Wednesday.
Despite the Colombian government’s repetitious defense of the proposed military reform, Colombian senators announced they would review the military bill to confront human rights organizations’ concerns — that the reform would permit impunity in military courts especially in the extrajudicial killing of civilians, a scandal known as “false positives” in Colombia.
The author of the proposed bill, Senator Juan Manuel Galan, assured that “acts committed by uniformed personnel will never be recognized in [military] jurisdiction unless the acts are committed in relation to the service.”
To ensure the senator’s promise, the reform must therefore be reviewed before its final approval to avoid any loopholes for “false positives” cases (referring to a scandal where authorities killed civilians and counted the victims as guerrilla “combat kills”) to end up in military courts, reported newspaper El Espectador.
“We will do everything in the drafting and terminology so that it will be absolutely clear so that those being processed in the future for ‘false positives’ cannot escape ordinary justice,” Galan told the newspaper.
If passed as it stands, the reform would give more power to Colombia’s military in investigating and prosecuting human rights violations that are committed by military and police personnel, crimes which NGO’s argue should undoubtedly be handled by civil courts.
Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the U.N. and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have publicly criticized the government’s proposed military reform in that it would allow for military impunity, especially in false positive cases.
The senate’s announcement comes days after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arrived to review Colombia’s human rights status and determine whether or not the country should remain on the organization’s human rights “blacklist.”