Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos on Saturday announced that his government has withdrawn a controversial proposal that would let human rights abuses by members of the military fall within the jurisdiction of military tribunals.
Santos did so after a commission, consisting of former members of the constitutional court and retired members of the military, had avised the government to withdraw the criticized military justice reform from the planned judicial reform.
Nevertheless, the president vowed that prosecuted members of the military would be guaranteed justice.
“They recommend we withdraw, or ask Congress to withdraw, this article of the reform and present a new proposal and a new constitutional reform that — in certain way — guarantees something that has been said since the beginning; that there is no fall back in what we have achieved in regard to human rights but at the same time the security forces are given the necessary guarantees,” Santos said during a speech.
The Colombian government earlier refused to withdraw the controversial reform that was criticized by human rights organizations as Human Rights Watch because it would “guarantee military impunity.”
The Colombian Armed Forces, mainly the Army, are facing massive numbers of alleged cases of human rights violations. According to the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office, it is investigating 3,500 members of the military over the extrajudicial execution of some 3,000 civilians in what has been called the “false positives” scandal. A false positive in the Colombian context is when a soldier murders a civilian but registers it as a combat kill.