Colombia’s House of Representatives opened a discussion Tuesday on a pending constitutional reform that could allow demobilized paramilitaries to participate in politics, reported newspaper El Espectador.
The debate surrounded the possibility of ex-paramilitaries participating in national politics by standing for election or holding public office, as was suggested by the constitutional reform proposed by Senator Roy Barreras Montealegre in September.
Following the discussion, Barreras claimed that the reform initiative would never allow for ex-paramilitaries to hold elected positions in Congress.
“It is altogether ruled out that ex-paramilitaries condemned for atrocious crimes would have any benefit in politics, this new law does not concern them,” the legislator assured.
Barreras has received the backing of the government of President Santos in his plan to modify article 122 of the Political Constitution, which states that anyone convicted of belonging to, promoting or financing illegal armed groups or of crimes against humanity or drug trafficking cannot stand for public office.
House President Simon Gaviria Munoz, said the reform would carry with it the possibility that ex-paramilitaries could become politically involved by giving up their arms, but still retaining their original radical political goals, just as in the past demobilization of Colombian terrorist group M-19.
Ex-paramilitaries announced Monday that they would support Senator Roy Barreras’ constitutional reform as long as it allowed them to hold public office and participate in Colombian politics.