The International Criminal Court (ICC) will closely monitor the peace process in Colombia to make sure genuine proceedings against those responsible of the most serious crimes are carried out, the court said Monday.
In the Report on Preliminary Examination Activities for 2014, the world court devoted to persecuting of individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, included a chapter-long summary of the situation of justice in Colombia, including an analysis with regard to issues of jurisdiction and admissibility.
ICC keeps an eye on Colombia
In the introductory chapters, the ICC informs that it may exercise its jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed in Colombia since 2002, and over war crimes committed since 2009. The report indicates that the Court based in the Hague, the Netherlands, is receiving information about alleged crimes perpetrated in Colombia that would fall under its jurisdiction.
Among crimes against humanity the Court believes to have been committed in Colombia are murder, forcible transfer of population, torture and imprisonment. War crimes under review by the Court include attacks against civilians, outrages upon personal dignity, sexual violence as well as using children to participate actively in hostilities, among others.
As indicated in the article, in 2014 the Prosecutor’s Office “continued to gather and receive information on alleged crimes committed during the reporting period, including alleged killings, abductions, forced displacement, and sexual and gender-based crimes.”
Moreover, during the course of the year, the ICC has analyzed over two hundred judgements in cases against guerrilla, paramilitary and new illegal armed forces members, as well as those involving army members.
The Office continued to investigate the relevance of these decisions for the preliminary examination, including whether the focus is on those most responsible for the most serious crimes committed. “Where this is the case, the Office analyzes whether those proceedings are vitiated by an unwillingness or inability to genuinely carry out the proceedings,” reads the report.
Just Peace Process
With reference to the ongoing peace negotiations between Colombian government and FARC guerrilla, the report declares that the Court will engage with the authorities in “an effort to ensure that any eventual peace agreement, as well as legislation implementing the LFP, remain compatible with the Rome Statute (the treaty that established ICC).”
The ICC makes it clear that the peace process in Colombia is fully reliant on the implementation of appropriate justice mechanisms.
“The Court has informed Colombian authorities that a sentence that is grossly or manifestly inadequate, in light of the gravity of the crimes and the form of participation of the accused, would vitiate the genuineness of a national proceeding, even if all previous stages of the proceeding had been deemed genuine,” reads the report.
This can be read as a clear warning, as in instances where the Court denounces cases as “not genuine” and the internal justice system as “unwilling” to prosecute crimes, the Hague will take steps to intervene in the process.
In a communication with Colombia’s Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre from October, ICC reiterated that it will not accept the proposals of pardoned prison sentences for the most responsible perpetrators among the FARC leadership.
In terms of the Legal Framework for Peace (LFP) legislation, a bill determining the boundaries of a peace agreement with rebel group FARC, the Court warns the Colombian Congress to bear in mind that “the mechanism of total suspension of the execution of a sentence cannot be applied to those convicted as most responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes committed in a systematic manner.”
In the concluding paragraphs of the report, the Court recapitulated the positive and negative developments observed in the Colombian justice system over the past year.
On the optimistic note, in 2014, the Colombian authorities “took steps to prioritize investigations and prosecutions of those most responsible for conduct relevant to the preliminary examination. The Colombian authorities appear to have made some progress in their investigations for false positives cases.”
However, the Office also expressed its concern with the “limited progress relating to sexual crimes, although the creation of a working group in charge of investigating cases of gender-based violence within the DINAC could constitute a positive step.”
Finally, the ICC announced that it agreed with the Colombian Government to “perform a new mission to Colombia in the early 2015 in order to follow-up with the relevant Colombian authorities and other actors on national proceedings relevant to the
preliminary examination of the situation in Colombia.”