High-profile Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon said Tuesday that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will “obviously intervene,” if Colombia fails in its obligations to provide justice to the victims of the country’s conflict.
Colombia’s inability to bring cases to court was the object of the Spaniard’s criticism. “There is a lack of the political and judicial coordination and resolve necessary to begin trials,” he said. Victims had suffered too much without seeing results, he added.
The judge said that if Colombian authorities are unable to start proceedings “the ICC will have to say something – there will be claims and the court will have to say something.”
Garzon was referring to the Colombian Justice and Peace law, which allows demobilized paramilitaries to receive a reduced sentence if they make a full confession of their crimes. More immediate actions are necessary, he claimed, even if it means resorting to “partial indictments” – a mechanism which allows the suspects to be tried on crimes that come to light as their confession proceeds, rather than waiting for a full admission to be made.
The law came into force in 2005. However, despite the participation of 4,600 demobilized paramilitaries and guerrillas, only two people have been sentenced.
Garzon, who works as a consultant to the ICC prosecutor, made the comments while teaching a summer course at the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain.
The judge achieved international fame for pursuing high-profile figures such as Augusto Pinochet of Chile. Since May 2010, he has been suspended from his role as a judge in the Spanish National High Court on charges of abusing his powers to investigate atrocities committed in the Spanish Civil War. Despite this, he was given permission to work as a consultant to the ICC.
President-elect Juan Manuel Santos met with Garzon in July to discuss how the magistrate could collaborate with the incoming government on legal and human rights issues.