The future of Colombia’s war crimes tribunal has become uncertain after the senate’s far-right president sent an allegedly incomplete competency bill to his counterpart in the house of representatives.
The Special Jurisdiction for Peace has been investigating war crimes for over a year, but the bill that would regulate the court’s competencies was deformed before it arrived at the president of the House of Representatives, Liberal lawmaker Alejandro Carlos Chacon.
Key elements of the bill, for example the protection of victims rights and the contribution to peace, had disappeared from the bill after it left the office of far-right Senate president Ernesto Macias of President Ivan Duque‘s Democratic Center party.
Chacon refused to sign the bill and returned it to Macias, asking the controversial senate president to correct the “errors.”
“I am willing to sign immediately once the corrections are made in accordance with the constitutional mandate. To the contrary, I will not sign for omitting parts of the text that was included” by the constitutional court, said the president of the house.
The latest delay in approving the key legislation follows years of attempts to sink the war crimes tribunal by Duque and his party, which is closely tied to alleged war criminals.
Macias denied having removed parts of the bill and that said that he signed off on the document exactly as it arrived at his office.
This would mean that changes to the bill were made after its approval in Congress and before it arrived at Macias’ office for ratification.
Earlier attempts to limit the court’s powers were struck down by the Constitutional Court and caused tensions between the government and the United Nations that is monitoring the peace process.
The UN on multiple occasions has urged the government and congress to secure the court is able to operate. More than two years after the historic peace deal that allowed the demobilization of the country’s largest guerrilla group, the FARC, this is still uncertain.