Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved a transitional law Thursday, retrospectively legalizing the demobilization of some 20,000 paramilitary and guerrilla fighters, whose looming trials were threatening to clog Colombia’s justice system.
Court President Juan Carlos Henao told reporters that magistrates had made certain changes to the transitional law as passed by Congress to allow the testimonies of the demobilized fighters can be used against third parties in a court of law.
The judge also added that demobilized fighter would not be required to testify against their spouse or partner, nor against their close family members.
The transitional law allows benefits to demobilized paramilitaries and guerrillas in exchange for their cooperation with the peace and reconstruction process in the country on the condition the fighters are not suspected of having committed human rights violations.
The original law, created during the 2003-2006 demobilization of the AUC was rejected by the Constitutional Court in 2009. The court deemed that law unconstitutional, disallowing the government to grant amnesty to criminal suspects without interference of the judicial branch.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has emphasized the importance of the passing of the legislation, claiming that illegal armed groups had already begun to recruit demobilized paramilitary fighters on the basis that the government was failing to keep its promises.