The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday that the most serious crimes committed by rebel group FARC must not go unpunished.
In an exclusive interview with the newspaper, the Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, spoke of the legal framework for peace, a pending bill which sets the legal boundaries of what the government is and is not allowed to agree with the rebels.
“The most serious crimes of concern to the international community must not go unpunished.”
“Given the goals of the Rome statute (the treaty that established the ICC), the suspension of penalties goes against its object and purpose because in practice it prevents the punishment of those who commit the most serious crimes,” stated Bensouda.
Colombia’s prosecutor general said last month that FARC crimes against humanity could go unpunished in a post conflict Colombia.
“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 the prosecytor of the ICC however, such a scenario would be unacceptable.
“The Rome statute in the application of its provisions should be consistent with its primary objective, to end impunity for the most serious crimes,” said Bensouda.
“For this purpose the Rome statute reiterates the member states’ obligation to not only pursue and investigate, but to punish the perpetrators of such crimes,” emphasized the prosecutor.
President Juan Manuel Santos said last month that the government is “not willing to sacrifice justice for peace” during negotiations with rebel group FARC, insisting the legal framework for peace makes “no room for impunity.”
The head of state did however, concede that “we cannot pretend to investigate all acts committed in half a century of violence, but we want to build a realistic strategy, one that meets the rights of the victims in the best way possible.”
Membership to the ICC provides an obligation to the member state to all punish members of armed groups who violate international humanitarian law.
NGOs insist that the state has failed to fulfill such an obligation, arguing that the legal framework for peace is a “distortion of transitional justice.”
“Instead of achieving maximum justice in adverse conditions, it [Santos’ proposed legal framework for peace] allows you to reduce the duty to administer justice under the pretext of peace,” stated Gustavo Gallon, director of NGO Colombian Commission of Jurists.
The framework for peace was proposed by the government and approved by Congress last year to set the legal boundaries of what the government can and cannot offer illegal armed groups in return for their demobilization. The legislation regulating transitional justice at the end of armed conflict gained eminence when the government announced to begin peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC.