Colombia’s Inspector General’s Office will investigate the country’s Congress for its handling of a controversial justice reform initiative, that was initially passed and then scrapped.
The preliminary investigation will be opened against the Senate and the House of Representatives to determine if there were any irregularities in the June 14 passing of the bill.
Though originally proposed by the Santos administration, a series of controversial last-minute amendments were introduced during a closed-door congressional committee that caused many to question the legality of the final draft. Critics said it would increase impunity for public officials charged with a crime and President Juan Manuel Santos said it could cause “institutional and judicial chaos.”
Investigators will pay particular attention to the handling of the bill by German Vargas Lleras, former interior minister and current housing minister , and Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra to determine if the officials pressured congress members to pass the draft. Esguerra oversaw the handling of the bill as well as the congressional committee, though claims not to have been in the room when the controversial changes were agreed upon. He offered his resignation June 23, taking responsibility for the failure of the reform.
Santos admitted Monday that his government was “wrong” in its passing of the bill and vowed to “make the necessary corrections.” He pinned blame on Minister Esguerra for supporting the reform “without being aware of its repercussions.”
Several officials came forward to claim they voted to approve the bill due to government pressure. Tensions are high between Colombia’s congressional body and the government, according to Senate President Juan Manuel Corzo, who claimed he wanted to avoid “a further breakdown in the relationship with the government.”