Colombia’s Constitutional Court said Wednesday that it cannot block President Ivan Duque‘s decision to return a law that defines the powers of the country’s war crimes tribunal to Congress.
In a press conference, the members of the high court said that it can only take action after Congress has taken a decision on the controversial move by the president.
The president of the House of Representatives had asked the court for instruction, considering that Duque’s objections to the statutory law of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) were targeting elements already approved by the court.
According to the Constitutional Court, it will only able to rule on Duque’s decision and possible changes made to the statutory law after Congress has taken a decision.
This means that the court will take action once Congress either refuses to accept the objections of the president, makes changes to the bill or sinks it as a whole.
Until then, the war crimes tribunal can continue its investigations but without defined limits to its powers, which in the past has already led to clashes with the country’s ordinary justice system, and in particular the notoriously corrupt Prosecutor General’s Office, which is implicated in numerous war crimes.
The Constitutional Court on multiple occasions undid attempts by Congress — where many could be affected by war crimes investigations — to limit the powers of the transitional justice system that seeks justice for the country’s 8.5 million conflict victims.
Congress has until June 20, the last day of the legislative year, to take a decision on Duque’s objections to the bill.