The government is set to include controversial plans to try military personnel in separate courts as part of the justice reform bill that will be presented to Congress on Wednesday.
The president of the U Party, Juan Lozano Ramirez, confirmed that following talks with President Santos the government will back the proposal, which critics claim could lead to immunity for members of military who commit human rights abuses.
Lozano revealed that some changes had been made to “improve” the reform, but that separate military courts would remain part of the proposal.
He said, “we are going to make some changes to the proposal, which will be presented on Wednesday.”
The government’s internal minister, German Vergas Lleras, announced on October 7 that the article would not be included in the reform but it was an issue that would be addressed at a later date.
This decision was strongly opposed by members of the U Party, who form part of the government coalition.
U Party Senator Roy Barreras, insisted that special jurisdiction must be implemented to guarantee due process for military officials.
He claimed that soldiers are afraid to take orders from their superiors for fear of being prosecuted for their actions and that this has led to greater insecurity in the country.
“Those who judge, [must] know the language of war, know the different between an attack and a conflict, because when they do not know, the perception of blame falls on the military officers and this causes the demoralization of troops and that Colombians suffer insecurity,” said Barreras.
The Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon, supported Barreras assertion and said that the government is concerned with recognizing and analyzing the “concern of members of the armed forces in terms of the judicial context of carrying out operations.”
With influential coalition members and leading military personnel publicly supporting the proposal, the government backed down. On October 21 Lleras conceded,“we, the government, cannot withdraw it.”