Colombia’s defense minister on Thursday vowed that more than 3,000 pending cases of extrajudicial killings by the military will not be transferred to military tribunals.
Following the controversial approval of Congress to amplify the jurisdiction of military-run courts to prosecute and judge members of the same military, Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon wrote the United Nations that the so-called “false positives” cases “will not be transferred to the military criminal justice, I assure you this will not happen. This is not nor will be this government’s policy.”
Todd Howland, the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia, had said before approval that the government bill an preceding legislation related to the prosecution of alleged criminal members of the military is “totally unnecessary” and pushed the country away from obeying to international obligations in terms of human rights.
Colombia’s military justice reform has been particularly controversial as the armed forces are accused of killing more than 3,000 civilians in order to up their apparent effectiveness against illegal armed groups.
BACKGROUND: False positives
Pinzon did agree with the UN that “the investigations and trials for allegedly criminal practices that took place prior to the coming into force of the current law can not be advanced for the purpose of punishing an extrajudicial execution” indicating that possible future cases of extrajudicial killings by members of the military will be taken to a military courts.
Following the breaking of the false positives scandal in 2008 and the apparent failing of military tribunals to successfully prosecute its own members, civilian prosecutors took over investigations against the practice and discovered that at least 3,000 Colombians had been killed by the army.