A lot can go wrong in the four days Colombia’s congress has to approve a war crimes tribunal one year after a peace deal with FARC guerrillas.
The House of Representatives is set to debate the bill on Monday, but Congress has resisted key elements of the peace deal signed with the Marxist group last year.
More than 60 congressmen have been sent to prison for ties to armed groups over the past decade. The war crimes tribunal and truth commission could have major consequences for lawmakers implicated in war crimes.
The United Nations, which is observing the process, has warned the legislative branch that a failure to approve the Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) would have international consequences.
The Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights considers that the approval of the statutory bill of the JEP, by the Congress of the Republic, is fundamental for the effective compliance with international obligations regarding humans rights.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Colombia
President Juan Manuel Santos and Interior Minister Guillermo Rivera have urged the House to approve the bill and have left the possibility of declaring a national emergency open.
Changes made by the constitutional court and the senate make the approval of a transitional justice system as presented to the international community unlikely.
The court shielded civilians and politicians from the JEP. The senate inserted an article that would disqualify elected judges for having experience with human rights.
The International Criminal Court has warned it could intervene is the system fails to investigate those ultimately responsible for grave human rights violations.
If the House makes changes to the bill, a conciliatory session between the two legislative chambers will be held to come to a dual vote.
The Constitutional Court will then examine whether the bill as passed through Congress is in line with Colombia’s constitution.
The JEP came to life during negotiations between the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC, the guerrilla group that has been fighting the state since 1964.
The conflict left more than 8 million victims. Tens of thousands of Colombians are still missing.