Former President Andres Pastrana feared being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his actions while in power from 1998 to 2002 a WikiLeaks cable has shown.
Pastrana, in a conversation with then-U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield, voiced his concern that the ICC may seek to prosecute him for the alleged creation of a safe haven for drug traffickers and terrorists during the 1999-2002 peace talks with the FARC that saw the demilitarization of 16,000 square miles of land in southern Colombia.
In the cable dated November 14, 2007, Brownfield relays back to Washington that Pastrana was seeking support from the United States government to refute allegations being reported in the Colombian media at the time that the ex-president was active in facilitating narco-terrorists during the process.
Pastrana’s worries however point to a false sense of paranoia as the ICC’s mandate only covers the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed after its inception on July 1, 2002. Since the peace process with the FARC ended in failure on February 20, 2002 and saw the removal of the demilitarized zone, the ICC would have had no jurisdiction if indeed there was a claim to investigate.
In the same cable, Pastrana is said to have also been highly critical of then-President Alvaro Uribe. Firstly, he labelled Uribe’s decision to include Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in humanitarian exchange talks with the FARC an “error,” citing Chavez’s lack of trust worthiness and claiming he was only interested in involving himself to gain international prestige. Secondly, he questioned Uribe’s move to seek a third term in office, stating that it would “severely damage the checks and balances built into Colombia’s Constitution,” and heighten polarization within Colombian politics.
Pastrana’s attacks on Uribe are however nothing surprising, in light of the fact that in February last year, the former president, in an open letter, denounced Uribe’s administration for the “parapolitics” phenomenon whereby it continues to be shown that several politicians from that political era had ties to the paramilitary organization, the AUC.
Incidentally, atrocities committed by the AUC within the grander context of the Colombian conflict have been a focus point for the ICC in recent years. In 2010, Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon commented that the Court may intervene if the Colombian state continued in its inability to bring forward cases and provide justice to victims of the internal conflict and address the deficiencies within the demobilization process, principally, the Justice and Peace Law.
Colombia has been party to the ICC since it ratified the Rome Statute on August 5, 2002, two days prior to Uribe coming to office. However, the ratification only gave the Court jurisdiction over the crime of genocide and crimes against humanity. A moratorium on the investigation of war crimes meant that the ICC can only investigate those committed after November 1, 2009, providing the Colombian judicial system proves unable or unwilling.