Colombia’s Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, will introduce a new small-scale military justice plan giving soldiers and other members of the armed forces easy access to legal services to help them defend themselves in court.
The “Technical Defense System” seeks to guarantee efficient high-quality legal aid to members of the armed forces being investigated for possible crimes committed while on duty. The plan will be presented to Colombia’s Congress on Tuesday.
This project is being referred to as “Plan B” by local media outlets after last week’s defeat of a government-sponsored military justice reform bill in the Constitutional Court.
Pinzon announced shortly after the ruling by one of Colombia’s highest courts that he and the government had already begun working on plans and legislation to counter the court’s decision. But the rhetoric now seems to have changed, as the new Technical Defense System only aims to ensure that members of the armed forces are given high-quality legal aid; it does not aim to change the way in which justice itself is meted out – in military courts instead of civil courts.
“It is important to emphasize that the members of the Armed Forces of Colombia…are citizens with established fundamental rights according to national and international norms, which should be guaranteed by the state…[these include] the right to due process and the right to defense,” said one of the statements about the motives behind the plan.
The larger question of military justice reform is expected to be addressed by a government ‘Plan B’ legislation soon.