Colombia’s House of Representative is debating a bill that would allow for the demobilization of criminal groups on a massive scale.
Current laws do not yet permit Colombia’s government to advance demobilization negotiations with criminal organizations, also known as “Bacrim,” that emerged following the 2006 demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and are primarily engaged in “common crime” activity such as drug trafficking.
The House of Representatives President Hernan Penagos confirmed that this bill is already underway. Its chief goal is to provide prosecutors in Colombia with the power to negotiate with those who want to accommodate reduced sentences.
“Today, if you want to bring criminal gangs to justice, you cannot because there are no legal tools,” Penagos said.
According to lawmakers, when a large group of criminals is willing to consider surrender they typically will seek some form of incentive for laying down arms and ending their illegal activities. The ability to provide reduced sentences and other legal bargaining chips would be exercised in the same way it has been with guerrillas and paramilitary fighters for other demobilization efforts.
“The idea is that they can deliver the stolen goods and to admit their crimes,” Penagos said.
The bill will begin its discussion in the coming days and is expected to be presented to Prosecutor General Eduardo Montealegre.