The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Colombian government both expressed concern over a Colombian Constitutional Court ruling that could halt the suspension of criminal cases against former paramilitaries involved in the Justice and Peace process, reports ABC.
The court’s decision could mean that 17,000 of the 31,000 demobilized members of paramilitary group the AUC are prosecuted in civil courts, which the OAS says may damage the peace process.
The OAS mission to support the Justice and Peace process in Colombia said in a statement that the demobilized paramilitaries “are actively participating in the reintegration process promoted by the government and have not committed crimes against humanity or war crimes.”
The organization said that the court’s decision could cause “concern and anxiety” among the former paramilitaries, and that “imminent arrest warrants could end up convincing part of this population to leave the reintegration program and, in some cases, return to illegality.”
Colombian Minister for Justice and the Interior German Vargas Lleras said that his ministry had information that many of the demobilized paramilitaries had already returned to criminal organizations.
“We will begin today to analyze alternatives, which is not easy, I admit, because in practice if these people are not applying the principle of opportunity, if they are not subject to pardon or amnesty, the situation generated is very delicate,” said Vargas Lleras.
The Constitutional Court voted five to four that the “principal of opportunity” law which was designed to reintegrate ex-combatants was not consistent with the law, violates the principles of justice, and could be used as a kind of amnesty.