Colombia’s President Ivan Duque on Monday asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Monday to challenge his country’s war crimes tribunal..
Speaking at a summit of the court in Barranquilla, Colombia’s main port city on the Caribbean coast, the president asked the court to “demand a minimal penalty with proportional punishment for those responsible for crimes against humanity” of its member states.
In countries where peace processes are carried out under the principles of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition, and where it has been allowed to consider the existence of an internal margin of appreciation to find solutions to our own conflicts, it is also required that the Inter-American Court guarantee in its interpretation, in its philosophy and in its own pronouncements that… the court demand that we have proportional justice so that impunity is not promoted in regards to crimes against humanity or serious war crimes… My appeal, dear magistrates, is that in your interpretations and pronouncements, the inter-American system should also demand a minimum penalty with proportional sanctions for those who have committed the most abominable crimes throughout the hemisphere.
President Ivan Duque
The president did not mention his own country where his far-right Democratic Center party has long opposed an ongoing peace process with demobilized FARC members and in the transitional justice system in particular.
Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) seeks to bring justice to Colombia’s 8.5 million victims of the armed conflict through a restorative rather than a punitive system.
This system that has been set up with the input of victims, but according to Duque could “end up generating great frustration… and, what is worse, a feeling of lack of effective application of justice on the part of the victims.”
Duque’s appeal to the human rights court of the Organization of American States is his latest attempt to undermine the JEP.
Earlier this year, the president refused to sign off on the statutory bill defining the powers of the court, but was ultimately forced to do so by Congress, which refused to debate his objections.
Subsequent plans to underfund the transitional justice system were withdrawn after the United Nations Security Council intervened.
The transitional justice system is controversial because it allows war criminals to evade prison on the condition they tell the truth and repair their victims.
Because the majority of war crimes were committed by the military and their paramilitary allies, these confessions pose a major threat to politicians and businessmen who are responsible for war crimes, but have so far been able to evade justice.