Legislation considered key for the Colombian compliance with a peace process with demobilized FARC rebels is stuck in Congress as both ministers and congressmen have failed to attend sessions.
According to weekly Semana, some senators have called “sabotage” after Agriculture Minister Aurelio Iragorri failed to attend a debate on a rural reform and the majority of senators were absent.
Consequently, Congress has yet to begin the voting rounds on both justice and the reform that seeks to reduce rural inequality and violent conflict 30 days after the legislative chamber returned from summer vacation.
The situation in the House of Representatives is even worse. The lower chamber has yet to formally propose a bill that would approve the transitional justice system agreed between the government and the former guerrillas.
The transitional justice system that seeks to try both former guerrillas and state officials is scheduled to take office in late September, but would be delayed if Congress doesn’t approve the related legislation.
Also the political reform that was introduced on the first day of the legislative year has not progressed because of Congress’ chronic absenteeism, according to Semana.
This year’s congressional failure to even open the debates on key legislation related to the ongoing peace process seems to be a continuation of the debates held during the last legislative year.
In order to prevent a collapse of the process, President Juan Manuel Santos used a temporary mandate to approve legislation after Congress had only approved three of more than 30 bills related to peace before the summer recess.
While particularly visible during a peace process overseen by the international community, the set of bills related to the peace process is not the only legislation with difficulty passing through Colombia’s congress.
A debate on rampant violence against women was suspended over the legislators’ failure to attend the debate and even a debate on absenteeism was suspended in the last legislative year due to absenteeism.