While Colombia’s chief prosecution chief filed charges against the opposition campaign manager, human right advocates and victims sued former President Alvaro Uribe after he successfully helped sink a peace process with leftist FARC rebels.
The government and FARC rebels have agreed to consider changing the already signed deal while maintaining a bilateral ceasefire. The UN has agreed to keep its observers in Colombia.
But, the country’s conservative opposition has come under immense pressure after its campaign manager revealed the ‘No’ campaign strategy had been to foment public discontent and actively avoid the use of fact.
The scandal forced Uribe’s campaign chief, former Senator Juan Carlos Velez, to resign, but that was only the beginning.
On Friday, Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez said he would investigate Velez on electoral fraud charges.
Other investigated opposition lawmakers
Jose Obdulio Gaviria
María Fernanda Cabal
Since Velez’ surprise announcement and resignation, the published list of lies and disinformation used in the campaign has piled up while the margin with which the opposition won was minuscule and deeply divided the country while creating major uncertainty in the regions where the armed conflict is now again ongoing.
Human rights advocate Jorge Molano, on behalf of several victim and human rights organizations, announced he would sue not just Uribe, but every opposition politician that had actively spread lies and disinformation, an electoral crime with a minimum penalty of four years.
He who by misleading actions secured that a citizen or a foreigner allowed to vote by law votes for a determined candidate, party or political current, or votes blank, will be subjected to imprisonment between four and eight years. The same penalty is imposed on those who in the same way wins a plebiscite, a referendum, a popular vote or an impeachment referendum in the same way.
Article 388 of Colombia’s penal law
“The claims made by the campaign manager of the Democratic Center, Juan Carlos Velez, that there were lies targeting the voter proves there was fraud,”Molano told RCN Radio.
According to the human rights advocate, the ‘No’ campaign was “a systematic campaign of lies, deceit, [and] implications to generate fear and anxiety among Colombians that ultimately led to the fraud that was committed.”
Molano, who received a medal from the US Embassy for his “brave” defense of victims disappeared by the state, said he delivered more than 4,000-pages of evidence with the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court.
Whether to except or reject either cases lies with the country’s highest court, which could mean the process will take a while.
Last year, Colombia’s former chief prosecutor asked the court to investigate Uribe for his alleged involvement in a 1997 massacre, but without response, spurring Martinez on Thursday to demand the court take a decision on the case.