Colombia’s House president on Monday announced an “emergency plan” to speed up the prosecution of demobilized paramilitaries, warning that the International Criminal Court could intervene.
House Simon Gaviria Muñoz indicated that out of 34,000 cases only four had been ruled on, showing the urgent need for reform.
Muñoz said that the law “has been ineffective and we need a new framework to redefine it.” The lawmaker stressed that Colombia is “on the verge of the International Criminal Court entering Colombia.”
Muñoz also stressed the need to prioritize certain paramilitary cases to speed up the justice processes, saying, “we can not treat them all the same because some cases were massacres and others were chicken and vehicle robberies.”
He went on to explain that it was necessary to process the charges against criminal leaders and for serious crimes rather than spend time on small-scale cases.
Muñoz asserted, “we would need more than 500 years to move forward with all these [judicial] processes” that are repressed under the Law of Justice and Peace.
Muñoz concluded that “this is not only a mark of justice, it is a legal indication to encourage the defection that occurred within the paramilitaries and guerrillas; we understand that if we are not consistent with these demobilizations we are going to send the wrong message to the FARC troops that the government doesn’t fulfill [its promises].”
Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon has been given the role of special adviser to the Organization of American States (OAS) with the intention of amending the law in order to ensure that it does not lose credibility in the face of criticism.
The judge said that the law has faced many setbacks and believes that a detailed analysis is essential in order to correct it.
The Justice and Peace law is intended to assist the peace process in Colombia by granting procedural benefits to paramilitaries who agree to demobilize.
It has been heavily criticized by human rights groups for failing to properly demobilize paramilitary fighters and for letting leaders off lightly for serious crimes against humanity.