Colombia’s government coalition in Congress will support a proposed military justice reform, the country’s defense minister announced Wednesday.
The political parties announced their support for the legislation Wednesday evening after a meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos and Cabinet ministers.
“The Table of National Unity has agreed to support the introduction of legislation to comprehensively reform and strengthen military courts and the military justice system. This is important news that we are sure the soldiers and police in Colombia will understand as a message of support, the backing of political forces of the work to improve security of Colombians,” said Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzon.
Pinzon plans to submit the legislation Friday morning and he said he hopes to be accompanied by the presidents of the coalition parties.
The reform, which formalizes civilian courts’ jurisdiction over cases involving alleged human rights violations by members of the armed forces, was heavily criticized by former President Alvaro Uribe and his supporters within Santos’ coalition because it would lower the morale of Colombia’s troops engaged in a 48-year old conflict with leftist rebel groups.
Uribe temporarily moved the jurisdiction from military courts to civilian courts in 2009 after a scandal broke involving the extrajudicial executions of an estimated 3,000 civilians allegedly committed by members of the armed forces in order to up their apparent effectiveness fighting rebels. The military courts fell out of grace after a series of rulings in favor of military officials who were later convicted by civilian courts.