Opposition leaders accused the government and supporters of President Alvaro Uribe of seeking benefits for violators while failing to help their victims.
Meanwhile the Senate caucus backing Uribe defended an extension to the Justice and Peace Law on the grounds it would allow a “fair treatment to all demobilized.”
The Justice and Peace Law was implemented in 2002 by President Alvaro Uribe as an agreement between the Colombian government and the country’s armed groups.
Controversy has surrounded the law since its inception, causing polarization in the search for truth, justice and reparation for victims who have suffered at the hands of paramilitaries and guerrilla factions.
Supporters say there are 25,000 guerrillas and paramilitaries that are not included in the Act and must be given the same rights as another 27,000 who have benefited from the law. Others noted that thanks to Justice and Peace the authorities have discovered more than 2,500 mass graves that have brought reconciliation to the affected families.
Speaking against the bill, Sen. Gustavo Petro said this is an “immoral” extension of a series of privileges for “for the benefit of drug traffickers.”
According to him, “to give less jail time to violators” should only happen under a system that guarantees the truth and reparation for victims, “which so far is not happening.”
There was no vote Tuesday on the extension, which will continue Wednesday at the Plenary of the Senate. If approved it must pass a vote in the First Committee and the Plenary of the House.