A proposed constitutional reform currently before the Colombian Congress would “undermine justice” by handing an undue amount of power to the military, according to the United Nations on Monday.
Senior delegates from the UN Human Rights Council have called upon the Colombian government to reconsider a proposed constitutional amendment that, in its present form, sends 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 constitutional reform project would expand the jurisdiction of military or police tribunals,” argued eleven UN human rights experts in an open letter published Monday. It would give the armed forces, “the power to investigate, process and decide on cases of human rights violations which should be under the authority of the ordinary criminal justice system.”
The UN representatives were concerned that the proposed modifications, which pertain to articles 116, 152 and 221 of Colombia’s Constitution, will give too much power to the military in investigating and ruling on human rights related crimes.
They further argued, “the constitutional reform project would effectively undermine the independent functioning of the judiciary by allowing the military justice to investigate, process and judge these crimes.”
The human rights advocates concluded that the reform would, “imply a significant retrogression in the efforts carried out by the Colombian State to overcome and prevent repetition of the notorious human rights violations committed in the past,” and “foster a climate of impunity.”