Colombia’s House of Representatives on Monday approved a transitional justice system that will prosecute war crimes committed during the country’s half-a-century armed conflict.
A marathon session of 12 hours and repeated concerns by the United Nations were needed to gather enough support for the controversial Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP).
The approval came less than four days before a deadline set by the government and will still have to pass a commission of senators and representatives before being sent to President Juan Manuel Santos.
The FARC, the demobilized guerrilla group that violently opposed the state since 1964, has objected to changes made to the justice system that is part of a peace agreement signed a year ago.
The former guerrillas’ political party has requested a meeting with the International Criminal Court, which has warned Santos it could interfere if state crimes are not adequately prosecuted.
The group did not immediately respond to the approval in the House.
The JEP will try members of the FARC and the military who are accused of war crimes, but the court exempted the thousands of politicians and businesses accused of supporting terrorism.
The House removed a controversial article that sought to disqualify elected judges for having experience in human rights in Colombia.
The lower chamber maintained an article that conditions FARC members’ political participation to their submission to the JEP. Former guerrillas that seek office must be certified by the transitional court.
A number of peace-related bills, including a far-reaching political reform, are still in the House that has until Thursday to “fast-track” emergency legislation.
The Colombian government and the FARC agreed to the transitional justice system to seek justice for the victims of war crimes committed during the conflict that has left more than 8 million victims.