The investigations chief of Colombia’s war crimes tribunal has requested the immediate resignation of 40 prosecutors following a corruption scandal earlier this month.
Giovanni Alvarez, Director of the Investigations Unit of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), wants 24 prosecutors and 16 prosecution delegates to resign as part of an anti-corruption investigation.
Alvarez will revise the history and performance of each prosecutor over the next month, then will decide whether to accept the resignation, or reject it – effectively keeping the individual in their role. He will also analyze past appointments of prosecutors, and implement new security checks to avoid the appointment of possibly corrupt officials in the future.
The move follows the arrest of an assistant prosecutor who was caught accepting money from undercover agents earlier this month. Following the arrest of assistant prosecutor Carols Bermeo, Alvarez announced he would take measures to prevent corruption and protect the integrity of his office.
The JEP, which will try former FARC guerrillas and members of the military accused of crimes against humanity, is highly controversial in Colombia because of the possible political implications of the revelations of war crimes.
President Ivan Duque has refused to sign off on the statutory law that would define the transitional justice court’s powers, and Prosecutor General Nestor Humberto Martinez has been accused of “intimidating” and “categorically meddling” with the JEP.
The war crimes tribunal is expect to shed light on the victimization of more than 8.5 million Colombians by FARC guerrillas, members of the military, politicians and businessmen.
The impunity rate of crimes against humanity committed during Colombia’s half-a-century armed conflict lies above 95%, meaning that many who have long gotten away with some of the worst atrocities committed during the violence could finally be called to court.