Uribe called for the war crimes tribunal (JEP) that is a key element of the ongoing peace process to be “eliminated” on Tuesday on Twitter, criticizing the judicial benefits granted to FARC guerrillas and members of the military who are willing to tell the truth and repair their war crimes.
If Duque does not sign the bill, it would be a “death blow” for the peace process, according to weekly Semana and make justice for war victims virtually impossible.
The UN’s mission chief in Colombia, Carlos Ruiz, and the EU envoy to the peace process, Eamon Gillmore, called on Duque to ratify the bill that regulates the court’s competencies and to respect the JEP’s independence in an editorial in newspaper El Tiempo earlier that morning.
The JEP has been in operation for a year but has not had the necessary legislation passed to regulate its competencies and be fully independent as intended amid fierce resistance in Congress where many could be linked to war crimes.
Colombia’s congress and Constitutional Court have approved the statutory law, and it now only needs the signature of Duque.
Without JEP, the peace process has no mechanism to prosecute crimes committed during the war that left 8 million victims.
The pronouncement by Uribe, who has been tied to numerous war crimes, and Martinez, who is embroiled in some of the country’s worst corruption scandals, drew sharp criticism in Colombia and internationally.
More than 200 organizations working in human rights and victims advocacy signed a letter urging the president to sign the bill and adding that victims will be left “unprotected” without it.
Former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, who ran against Duque in 2018, responded that Uribe’s only objective is to ensure “the truth is not known about the paramilitary genocide he helped unleash.”
The Truth Commission alongside JEP could cause trouble for the president, as top officials may be called to testify before the court for alleged war crimes, putting the president and close political allies like Uribe in danger for prosecution after decades of impunity.
Uribe is set to appear before the Supreme Court for the alleged tampering of witnesses who have testified he formed a paramilitary death squad, allegedly like his brother Santiago, who is on trial before the Supreme Court.
The last time a transitional justice system was approved in 2005 between Uribe’s government and the AUC, more than 60 congressman and at least nine governors ended up in prison for war crimes.