Former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Wednesday that a bill allowing peace talks with illegal armed groups as proposed by his successor Juan Manuel Santos will give amnesty to the perpetrators of Tuesday’s assault on one of his former ministers in Bogota..
“Terrorism is bleeding the country, killing democracy, and the government is pressuring Congress with bureaucratic intimidation to pass a framework of impunity for terrorism,” the ex-president told reporters.
After Tuesday’s attack against former Minister Fernando Londoño, the Congress passed on the sixth of eight necessary debates on a bill to amend article 122 of the constitution to provide legals benefits for demobilized paramilitaries and guerrillas, including allowing them to run for political office.
“The bureaucratic pressure that the government is putting on the Congress, it disrespects the country, it could lead to the framework for peace, which under the conditions of approval, could lead Congress to [give amnesty to those] who planted the bomb,” said Uribe.
Justice Minister Juan Carlos Esguerra defended the amendment and said that the reform incorporates the National Constitutional Transitional Justice criteria, which mandates that the amendment is applied exclusively to hostilities perpetrated in the context of the internal conflict.
“It is undisputed that to resolve and put an end to this conflict, it is essential to adopt and implement a series of instruments of transitional justice,” said Esguerra.
“The project does not imply a blank check from the government or a door to impunity,” he added.
The coalition Liberal Party on Wednesday accused Uribe of trying to gain politically from the attack on his ally. “I represented the opposition in the years of the Uribe government. The Liberal Party was tough in the opposition, was relentless in the opposition, but neither I or the party ever used terrorist acts to oppose the government,” Labor Minister Rafael Pardo said.
While in office, Uribe also received fierce criticism for granting legal benefits to demobilizing members of the AUC, a paramilitary organization held responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations including murder, rape and forced displacement.