Politicians, businessmen and state officials who want to evade prison for war crimes committed during Colombia’s armed conflict have three months to report themselves or lose the possibility for judicial benefits.
The country’s war crimes tribunal issued a public alert, urging the so-called third-party war criminals to report themselves before they lose access to judicial benefits and risk prison.
President Ivan Duque automatically activated a deadline when he signed off on the statutory law that defined the powers of the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) last week.
This law says that those who were linked to a criminal investigation before that day, but have not yet been prosecuted have three months to report themselves.
According to the prosecution, it is set to file criminal charges against 2,300 civilians and 3,300 state officials who, according to paramilitaries, took part in war crimes.
The most prominent of these alleged war criminals is former President Alvaro Uribe, who is investigated by the Supreme Court in relation to his alleged formation of a paramilitary death squad in the 1990s.
These alleged war criminals will have three months after they have been notified that they are the subject of a criminal investigation related to war crimes.
War criminals who are not linked to formal investigations can voluntarily report themselves if they want to prevent possible future investigations.
In all cases, the businessmen, state officials and politicians must initially report themselves before the Prosecutor General’s Office to request a suspension of their case.
Once the case is suspended, it will be transferred to the JEP that will then decide whether or not to allow a suspect to the transitional justice system based on the alleged war criminal’s perceived willingness to tell the truth and repair his or her victims.
According to newspaper El Espectador, some 400 alleged third-party war criminals have already requested submission to the transitional justice system that allows convicts to evade prison in return for their contribution to the truth and the reparation to their victims.