Colombia’s vice minister of defense on Friday questioned if the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has understood the controversial military jurisdiction reform after the organization again criticized the legislation.
Addressing the Colombian government from the Universal Periodic Review of Colombia in Geneva, Switzerland, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanetham Pillay, declared that if Colombia wants “lasting peace” and “justice for victims”, it will need to do away with the controversial military jurisdiction reform.
“If the [Colombian] government really wants justice for the victims and a lasting peace, it must remove the [military justice] reform,” said Pillay.
However, Colombia’s vice minister for defense, Jorge Enrique Bedoya, today reacted to the latest U.N. commissioner’s declaration in a letter, stating that her appraisal of the reform “ doesn’t correspond to the reality” of what the reform is proposing.
“It is absurd to say that there will be peace if the military jurisdiction reform is repealed,” he said. “It is thanks to the efforts and sacrifice of the military that today we can even consider peace.”
The vice minister also confirmed that while the government is respectful of the opinion of the United Nations, the reform will continue its course through the legislative system.
The reform of military jurisdiction has already proved to be a point of debate with the human rights organization, which has denounced it since it was approved by Congress, in December 2012.
Pillay reaffirmed the concerns that she sent to President Juan Manuel Santos in November of last year, stating that the military reform “will weaken and undermine considerable efforts that the government had begun to ensure that the human rights violations supposedly committed by the military be appropriately investigated and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.”
Pillay declared herself “disillusioned” over the government’s decision to approve the new reform, calling it a “step backwards” stating: “Military tribunals don’t have the knowledge, capacity and experience that ordinary justice has to carry out these processes.”
New reforms to the military jurisdiction are currently pending discussion in Congress, and four debates are set to take place before June 20 to decide if the new alterations will be approved.
Pillay added that she “fully supports” the peace process between the Colombian government and left wing rebel group FARC, but specified that it cannot come at the price of justice.
“The people want peace, but also justice, and you cannot separate these two things. You also can’t say that one thing will come first and then the other later,” she said.
- Comisionada de la ONU no leyó la reforma al fuero penal militar: Gobierno (El Espectador)
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- Colombia descalifica declaraciones contra fuero militar hechas por comisionada de la ONU (Caracol)
- Fuero militar, sin ponentes y sin tiempo (Semana)