More than 230 social organizations on Wednesday demanded that the Colombian government withdraw a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand the power of the military.
In a letter addressed to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Congress, hundreds of activists expressed their concerns about the proposed reform, which they believe will lead to, “impunity for serious human rights abuses and undermine international humanitarian law.”
“This reform…far from strengthening the work of the regular courts… is promoting changes that will benefit military and police involved in grave violations of human rights and breaches of international humanitarian law,” wrote the activists.
The protesters believe military tribunals lack impartiality and are therefore unfit to judge Colombian soldiers accused of serious crimes.
Their concerns echo those of the United Nations, which argued in October that the military reform would send the, “wrong message to the members of the security forces on the consequences of participating in the commission of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”
The proposed modifications pertain to articles 116, 152 and 221 of Colombia’s Constitution and would grant greater investigative power and jurisdiction to the armed forces.
The Santos administration, however, appears unwavering in its support for the proposed change.
“By no means will there be impunity. The intention is to have especially strong judicial investigations…What is sought is less impunity,” assured Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon on October 24.