The International Criminal Court (ICC) Friday warned both Colombian illegal armed groups and the country´s government it will not hesitate to prosecute those who commit war crimes in the country´s violent conflict.
Colombia recently ratified full cooperation with the ICC. The ICC will now hear accusations of war crimes that have been committed in Colombia but have never seen justice, in a series of trials beginning on November 1st.
“There are many crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC, including forced displacement, disappearances, the use of child soldiers, sexual violence, torture, killings and hostage-taking,” Marcelo Pollack, head of Amnesty International Colombia told El Espectador.
According to Pollack, “although there has been progress in some emblematic human rights cases, mainly because of international pressure, most abuses remain unpunished.”
Now the ICC will have jurisdiction it “must decide whether the Colombian authorities are doing enough to bring those responsible to justice.”
“In the case of abuses committed by guerrillas or paramilitary violations, impunity so far has been almost total,” Pollack said.
Amnesty International believes that in Colombia “there is not a sincere desire to fully uncover the perpetrators of such crimes or punish them for such acts, or of compensate their victims.”
“The most important thing is that from 1 November, the ICC will become a deterrent to the guerrillas, paramilitary groups still operating in Colombia, and to the Army,” said Alirio Uribe Muñoz, a member of the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective and a human rights specialist.
According to Muñoz, since Colombia’s refusal to completely ratify with the ICC in 2002, two million Colombians have been victims of forced displacement and there have been over 14,000 murders.
Muñoz said that the ICC may demand political responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity from senior officials, including President Álvaro Uribe himself.
The ICC has no reason to investigate war crimes in Colombia as the country’s courts are already doing so, Colombia’s ambassador to the ICC Francisco Lloreda said Thursday.