Colombia’s Constitutional Court approved a revised peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels on Tuesday, and allowed Congress to “fast-track” priority legislation necessary for the demobilization of the country’s oldest guerrilla group.
The court’s endorsement came almost two weeks after Congress approved the revised deal.
The most heated debate centered around whether Congress’ ratification of the accords could be considered popular endorsement, a requirement for enactment of the peace deal.
According to the court, endorsement “may be concluded by virtue of a free and deliberative expression from an authority with democratic legitimacy (Congress),” reported El Tiempo.
The ruling reduces the number of debates required for each piece of legislation tied to the peace deal from eight to four.
Congress is permitted a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on each law, thus eliminating efforts to amend each law, a scenario that could result in delays.
In addition, extraordinary powers are granted to President Juan Manuel Santos to issue executive decrees with the force of law to ensure implementation of the agreement.
Most significantly at this time it will allow Congress to enact a critical amnesty law defining FARC guerrillas’ legal status, pardoning those not convicted of war crimes, and thus facilitating demobilization efforts.
Only on Saturday, more than a week after they were supposed to begin demobilizing, did the FARC begin to do so in spite of the judicial insecurity.
As of December 1, the peace deal’s “D-Day”, the country is tied to a strict 180-day timeline in which the FARC is supposed to effectively demobilize and disarm.
With the “fast track” approved now, President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration can proceed with swiftly implementing the needed legislation to ensure compliance with the peace deal’s schedule.
Colombia’s armed conflict has been waging since 1964 and has cost the lives of at least 265,000 Colombians. Tens of thousands were “disappeared” and some 8 million were displaced.