Demobilized FARC guerrillas may be able to evade prison under a post-conflict transitional justice system also if they’re convicted of crimes against humanity, Colombia’s chief prosecutor said Monday.
“I believe that it is possible within the framework of transitional justice and the framework of international law that, even though they will be convicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes, the sentence can be provisionally suspended if this corresponds to the need of overcoming the conflict,” Montealegre said at a forum on transitional justice.
According to Colombia’s top prosecutor, the same rule would apply to members of the military implicated in the 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice in which the military violently retook the building from M-19 rebels after which 11 people were disappeared, allegedly at the hands of the military.
“The issues of the Palace of Justice that are intimately related to the conflict can enter the orbit of transitional justice,” explained Montealegre.
However, members of the military implicated in the killing of some 4,000 civilians in order to inflate the army’s apparent effectiveness can not expect judicial leniency, said the Prosecutor General.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is preparing the legal consequences of the possible demobilization of the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group with an estimated 9,000 members. The Colombian government recently granted more funds to the investigative body to prevent a possible further clogging of Colombia’s already dysfunctional justice system.
The FARC and the government have been involved in peace talks since November in order to seek a negotiated end to a conflict that has lasted almost 50 years.
The last mass demobilizations of illegal armed groups, those of paramilitary organization AUC between 2003 and 2006, and neo-paramilitary group ERPAC in 2011, have been strongly criticized because of what critics have called the granting of impunity to war criminals.